Next week, the priests and people of the Parish of the Sacred Heart, The Folly, celebrate the 40th anniversary of the completion of their much loved landmark and iconic church building which first welcomed people through its doors in 1969.
Since then, the church has been a centre-point for the lives of thousands of parishioners who worshipped there as well as receiving the Sacraments, sadly in some cases literally from the cradle to the grave. When the Church was first built there were 900 houses in the parish compared to more than 3,500 at present.
In 1974, the Sacred Heart became a parish in its own right and to mark both momentous occasions, Cardinal Sean Brady will pay his first official visit to Waterford next Saturday, December 5th, where he will join with Bishop William Lee, Fr Sean Melody and Fr Gerard Chestnutt in celebrating a Mass of Thanksgiving at 7pm. Also present on the day will be a number of priests who served the community in the church down through the years.
Parish priest, Fr Melody, told The Munster Express he was delighted that the celebratory Mass would be attended by the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Davy Daniels, members of the City Council and city officials.
“We celebrate the great community spirit that has built up in the parish over forty years and the many friendships that have been formed by young and old as they worked for the good of everyone in the area. This palpable warmth of the people, and their community spirit, is often commented on by visitors to the parish”, said Fr Melody.
“We give thanks for the strength of faith and commitment that is so visible in the many people who volunteer for various ministries in the Sacred Heart Parish and, without whom, this parish could not survive much less say thrive.
We thank people for their support in the many ventures that have been undertaken to develop the parish over the years. Their generosity with time, talent and treasure is what has made all those ventures possible and made the parish the great community we are happy to belong to”, added Fr Melody.
The Sacred Heart Parish was part of the old St John’s Parish until the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Dr Michael Russell, divided St John’s into three distinct parishes on March 8th 1974 – St John’s, SS Joseph & Benildus and the Sacred Heart Parish.
The Sacred Heart Parish stretches from the corner of Poleberry and Ballytruckle out to Katie Reilly’s, up to the Williamstown road, back into town as far as the top of the Folly and down to the corner of Poleberry.
Through the years the parish has been served by five Parish Priests – Fr. Michael Russell (1974-1979), Fr. Frank Hopkins (1979-1985), Fr. Tommy Nugent (1985-1989), Fr. Jim Griffin (1989-2001) and Fr. Sean Melody (2001- ). Associate Priests serving the parish community were Fr. Jim Curran, Fr. Milo Guiry, Fr. Jeremiah Dwyer, Fr. Gerry Condon, Fr. John Connolly, Fr. Martin Keogh, Fr. Conor Kelly and Fr. Gerry Chestnutt.