Holy Family Silver Jubilee Celebrations 1983-2008

Holy Family Parish Derry celebrated the Silver Jubilee of the Opening and Blessing of the Church which took place on 25th September 1983.

A colourful and attractive book recounting the life of the parish, past and present, has been written and is available at the parish.

An exhibition in the form of a time line is on display in the church depicting parish memories in the context of world and local events over the years.

From 20th- 28th September we held a Parish Retreat, with the theme: ‘GOD IS WITH US ALWAYS.’ Throughout the nine days we experienced a great outpouring of God’s Grace through this celebration of our Silver Jubilee. The gloriously mild and pleasant Autumn weather reflected and enhanced the positive mood as amazing crowds of people streamed into the church at 7am and 10am and each evening at 7.30pm.

Our celebration was launched at the Vigil Mass on Saturday 20th September when we blessed babies and children as we did at all the weekend Masses and distributed the Guardian Angel prayer card.

Fr. Paddy O’Kane remembered the many expressions of God’s presence in the generous and open way in which priests and people have combined to build a vibrant worshipping and life-giving community of faith in this parish through all the joys and trials of life.

Nuala O’Loan reflected with us on our need to let God be God and that when we do, His grace, shown to us in the crucified Jesus, carries us through every experience, no matter how difficult.

Mary Good showed us how God’s presence is true and powerful in a way and at a level that is more profound than even our strongest feelings.

Peter Hutton and our Youth 25 group combined to express great hope as the different generations try to relate to each other and to God in a way that draws on God’s grace to equip us to face the challenges and decisions of life. Youth 25 group grew out of the Pope John Paul II Award initiative in our parish. The group performed a modern day version of the Prodigal Son story. The script was written by Irene Melaugh.

Our Penitential Service was nourished and led by the inspiring words of Fr. John Farren who told us of the unchanging beauty of God’s love as He always loves us as we are.

We had arranged for Sister Aloysius McVeigh to speak on the Friday night. Sr. Aloysius painted the original Holy Family painting above the main door of our church and she has now presented her original, exquisitely beautiful icon of the Holy Family to the parish. Sadly, Sr. Aloysius was not able to be with us through illness. We pray for her healing and recovery.

On Friday Fr. John Cargan generously stepped in and reflected with us in a very creative and gentle manner on the way in which God is with us, expressed in the Old and New Testaments.

On Saturday, Angela Garvey, Lead Consultant in Palliative Medicine at Altnagelvin Hospital, spoke movingly to us about the profound yet simple ways in which God’s presence means so much to patient and doctor alike in times of sickness and crisis.

On Sunday, Bishop Edward Daly was the main celebrant of our closing Mass of the Retreat. Bishop Edward, most of the priests who formerly served here and a packed congregation experienced a great celebration of prayer, thanksgiving and worship.

At this Mass Fr. Peter Madden, who was newly ordained and was appointed the first curate here in Holy Family in 1983, preached a meaningful and beautiful homily on the meaning of a parish community as an expression of God’s love in the everyday events of life.

Our celebrations concluded with a family fun-day in the marquee in the church grounds and car park.

Praise Be To God for His great love within us and among us.