26 Jun 2022

Fr Vincent Stapleton pens a letter to the people of Bóthar na Naomh, Thurles

Ahead of the golden jubilee celebrations of St Joseph and St Brigid's Church, an open invitation is extended

St Joseph and St Brigid's Church, Bóthar na Naomh, Thurles will celebrate its golden jubilee on Friday

St Joseph and St Brigid's Church, Bóthar na Naomh, Thurles will celebrate its golden jubilee on Friday


Dear neighbours and friends of the community of Bothar Na Naomh and the Parks, I am writing this letter by way of invitation to you (and to all who wish us good will), to join us next Friday evening as we celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Church of St. Joseph and St. Bridget, in Bothar Na Naomh.

We have been hearing non-stop about those royals and her Majesty’s platinum jubilee and we wish her well. That being said, I think that the people of Bothar Na Naomh and the Parks will be able to show them a thing or two about how to celebrate a jubilee. We have no need of a golden pumpkin carriage or anything like that.

All we want is an old-fashioned shindig with a marquee, some tunes and a lively bit of dancing. I’m really looking forward to a siege of Ennis myself. We’ll have Mass at 7pm (praying for a fine evening) and if the Church is full, people can join in from the yard by means of the loudspeakers, or sit in the car and tune in.

No matter what part of the world you are in, you can be part of the celebration on through the webcam. We don’t need a fancy hologram to do the job either – we’ll have the real-life Archbishop of Cashel and Emly and the real VIP of Bothar Na Naomh, Mr. Declan Ryan, to plant a sapling tree which Archbishop Kieran has donated to mark both this jubilee and the launch of our new Diocesan plan, ‘Seeds of Hope.’

Above: Fr Vincent Stapleton

When I first came to Bothar Na Naomh seven years ago, one of the legends of the road, Patsy the Bishop, pointed to the Church and told me that they were going to build that Church in another part of town. But we said, no way! We wanted it here. And with the incredible generosity of the Hayes family and local support, we made it happen. A field for cows became the pasture of God’s flock.

For fifty years, Bothar na Naomh Church has nourished the spiritual life of our people. It has been the scene of our greatest highs and lows. There we baptise our children and introduce them to God. There, as we mark their growth, we give them the nourishment of Holy Communion. There before that altar, many couples have pledged their love to each other.

There we welcome our loved ones with heavy hearts as they take their final journey from this life. There we entrust them to God’s merciful, gentle hands. We may gather at times with heavy hearts but never without hope. Each Sunday, we mark the Lord’s Resurrection and draw strength from his sacrifice at that beautiful stone altar. There, are lit countless little candles for exams or any need. This Church belongs to us all.

I appreciate that many among us may feel disillusionment and some distance from the institutional Church. Its failures, great and small, have wounded confidence. As a leader in the Church, I am only too aware of my own limitations, failures and weaknesses which impair the work of God. And perhaps the Church is too slow to change and reform and keep pace with the times. But we should often remind ourselves that the Church is us … the people … and it should not be reduced to any faction within it. If we don’t keep the connection with God alive, it will continue to wither. Where will it be in fifty years time?

On Friday next, we celebrate the spiritual life of our people. We give thanks for the goodness and faith planted in the generations around us over these last fifty years. In time of need, the people of the Parks and Bothar Na Naomh are not to be found wanting. With all the current global turmoil and upheaval, we each need some faith and community support. We each need ways to nourish the life of the Spirit, especially in those who feel cut off, lonely and directionless.

In our little Church in Bothar Na Naomh, in the little golden box on the sanctuary, we have the real presence of Jesus who waits there to heal and revive every heart. Nothing else can surpass the eternal value of knowing Christ Jesus the Lord.

So come and join us on Friday evening to celebrate and give thanks for this building, the spiritual heartbeat of our community.

I am really looking forward to seeing you all there.

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