Bishop Denis celebrated Mass for the Official Opening of Sallins Community Playground on Friday 22 November in the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and Guardian Angels, Sallins.

Introduction:

It is great to join you today for another visit to Our Lady & the Guardian Angels Church here at Sallins. Another visit with you the Sallins community. A community within the larger family of Naas, Sallins & Two Mile House.

I recall other visits here, already a number of beautiful Confirmation ceremonies here; I look forward to joining you again on the Leap Day – February 29th for two ceremonies next year. I recall being here in July 2014 to bless the Church after the wonderful renovation work led by Fr Kevin then. I recall a later visit that year to mark the ninetieth anniversary of this church. I remember telling the story then that I was glad to make the ceremony that day because my predecessor Bishop Foley was unable to preside over the Dedication Mass ninety years earlier because of a cold! It was left to the local priest Fr. Norris to preside on the day. I recall other ceremonies honouring Moira your retired sacristan.

It’s great to be back again this November morning with Fr. Liam, Fr. Alex, Fr. Colum. Fr. Eddie & all of you … marking another momentus moment in forging a new identity for the community of Sallins. An identity that has four aspects – the playground, the garden, the pitches and the meeting rooms. I welcome warmly our guests who join us from Kildare County Council, from Down Syndrome Ireland St. Laurence’s School as well as Parish Finance Committee members and others.

Matthews gospel reminds us “not too worry” and yet we do, so much of our worrying is caught up in our feeling of inadequacy, unworthness, insecurity. Always remember in His embrace we are always held; in His mercy we are always secure and so we pray …

Homily:

Fr. Norris, who had to step in that day, now 95 years ago to dedicate this Church apparently lived until he was 103 and he spearheaded the project here. Fr. Liam & Fr. Alex there is great longevity for priests serving in these parts! Back at that time 95 years ago the committee raisded £400 – a substantial sum in the early years of the twentieth century. Initially he intended to build a new school for the children of Sallins and convert the old school into a chapel. But the outbreak of World War 1 saw the project and the plans put on hold. The War years saw construction prices soar and plans for the new church were scaled down, a more economical structure was decided upon.

Of course worship of a faith community in Sallins goes much further back than the 1920’s – while there was no chapel of ease or parish church here, there were people of deep faith here who travelled to attend Mass in Naas in the worst of weather conditions.

So there is an altruistic spirit in these parts going back generations. What would the £400 be valued at in todays money? Listening to this mornings radio there wouldn’t be much point investing it, interest rates are pretty much as rock bottom as they can be. So putting it to good use makes perfect sense then and now.

I read recently where Sallins is seen as Dublin 28[1] according to a recent Irish Times article by Jennifer O’Connell. I’m not sure. Sallins was ranked the most densely populated town outside of Dublin in the 2011 Census as evidenced also in that article. A town defined by a Canal has more than doubled in population in the past twenty years. O’Connell reminds us “Sallins apparently has the lowest density of jobs to workers in the country, with 86% of the working population commuting”[2]. Fr. Liam tells me todays population is close to 7,000. And yet identity was never so important.

Isn’t parish identity very important to us all – it determines where our children go to school, where we worship on a Saturday evening or a Sunday morning, where we play our football, hurling, rugby or soccer and ultimately where we want to be buried. And while Sallins is today very clearly a part of the greater Naas and Two-Mile-House grouping, it still has an identity of it’s own – this morning that identity is further nourished.

I am so delighted to see four stakeholders in this mornings projects. The Parish, the Down Syndrome Association, Kildare County Council and the School. I am so delighted Down Syndrome Ireland is part of this initiative. I think of my former parish, St. Mary’s Drogheda where the Arch Club gathered each week in our Parish Hall at the Old Hill. I think of Pat Clarke, who served on our Parish Finance Committee so involved with the Down Syndrome organisation. I think of Michael O’Dowd, Anne McAdam & many others.

I also read a recent statistic[3] suggesting that in 2011, eight years ago 43% of those who lived in Sallins had a third level education. I imagine it’s much higher now. It is incumbent on us all to use those skills, those talents, those resources for the betterment of our community and the wider parish of Naas, Sallins, Two Mile House.

ENDS

[1] O’Connell, Jennifer: ‘They Call Sallins Dublin 28’, The Irish Times, Saturday 29 June 2019, News Review, pg. 4. [2] ibid [3] Healy, Alison: ‘A Tale of Two Towns’, The Irish Times, Saturday August 16, 2014, News Review, Pg. 2.