Holy Spirit Church

Holy Spirit Church is located on the upper part of the Glen Road in Belfast.  

Below are some photos of Holy Spirit Church, as well as a section describing its history.

A History of Holy Spirit Church

The third church of the parish was built during the early years of the 1980’s under the direction of Canon Patrick McKillop.  The building of the church had been in the pipeline for some time.

Canon McNamara, in his time as Parish Priest, had acquired a suitable piece of land beyond the brewery, but the heavy financial burden incurred by the extensive school building programme during the 1960’s had delayed the building of a much-needed new church, especially after the burning of the Parochial Hall.

During the interim period the Assembly Hall in the Christian Brothers Secondary School was used as a chapel for easy for Sunday Mass and Parish Events.  

Work on the new church began with the laying of the foundation stone and the placing of relics of Pope Pius X and St Teresa of Ávila on 7th October 1981.  On 16th May 1982 Bishop Philbin returned for the official opening and dedication of the church which was designed by Daniel McRandal and Bernard McGuinness, and built by Patrick Kerr, all of whom were, at one time, parishioners of St Teresa’s.

The design of the church was to be very different to that of St Teresa’s reflecting the renewed teaching on the liturgy as stated by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)

Gone was the traditional ornate high altar, remote from the people, from which the priest quietly intoned the rite of the Mass.  Instead the altar table of the new church was placed on a raised and spacious sanctuary, that invited the whole assembly to join in the celebration of the liturgy together.

This church had the distinction of being the only church in the Diocese of Down and Connor dedicated to the Holy Spirit.  This is depicted in the large window placed over the entrance door and in the three stained glass windows behind the altar representing the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

A cross was erected in the grounds of the church replicating those that stood in Phoenix Park, Drogheda and Our Lady’s shrine at Knock to commemorate the visit of Pope John Paul II to Ireland in September 1979.

Like St Matthias’ the church of the Holy Spirit became the focus of the people who lived around the church.  Again, like St Matthias’, the Church of the Holy Spirit became the focus of the people who lived around the church.  Again, like St Matthias’, a dedicated group of people maintained the church, and the church grounds with great pride, and decorated the surrounds of the church with flags and bunting for special occasions.

One of these special occasions was the ordination of two parishioners, Patrick Sheehan and Ciaran Feeney, which took place on 2nd July 1989 when a large congregation gathered in the Holy Spirit Church.  The day was hot and sunny as St Teresa’s Choir greeted the entrance procession which included Bishop Cahal Daly.

There was a burst of applause when the young priests robed in their sacred vestments.  A parochial reception was held afterwards in the Christian Brothers Secondary School.

A teacher from the Secondary School was also ordained to the priesthood at Glenstal the year before and celebrated his first Mass, on 17th August 1988 in the Church of the Holy Spirit.

In June of that same year the Holy Spirit church was also the venue for the ceremony of the perpetual profession of parishioner Joseph McDonald into the community of the Irish Christian Brothers.

Some years later a similar ceremony took place for the De La Salle Brother Paul O’Connell. But there were sad days too.  One occurred in June 1989, when a Mass was said to mark the closure of the Cross and Passion Secondary School.

The Trustees and the Board of Governors fought hard to keep the school open but the lack of children supporting the school meant that the school was no longer viable.  And so the girls in the green uniform disappeared from the streets of the parish.

It is perhaps interesting to note that at this time there were three Sunday Masses in the Church of the Holy Spirit, two in St Matthias’ and six in St Teresa’s.  In 1987 the parish was served by five priests – Canon Patrick McKillop PP, Father Michael Murray, Father Peter O’Hare, Father Fred Hanson and Father Peter O’Kane.

Father O’Hare was appointed chaplain. To the Travelling People, who since the early 1970’s had occupied a site on the Upper Glen Road.  Special schooling for the children was provided in St Paul’s School in Cavendish Square which had been adapted for their use in 1980.

The children travelled to and from the school by flexibus provided by the Department of Education.  Another purpose-built school was opened for the travelling children living at the halting site beside McCances Glen.  It opened in 1995 but was forced to close in April 2000, because of vandalism.

In the Sprint of 1993, in response to the initiative of some of the local parishioners around Holy Spirit, a grotto, dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, was built in the grounds of the church.  The grotto was blessed by Father Fullerton on 20th June 1993.

One parishioner has expressed his appreciation of the building of the Church of the Holy Spirit:

“When we arrived in Rossnareen Avenue in 1965 we both had come from parishes where we were only a few minutes away from the church.  St Teresa’s Church seemed a long way away.  We had two small children at the time and a further five children were to follow.

We walked down to St Teresa’s Church as we had no car and there were no buses available to our part of the Glen Road.  We never seemed to be able to get into the Church on Sundays but always went to the Parish Hall.

At that time Turf Lodge was a part of the parish.  The hall was always packed and the scraping of chairs as people moved was part of the Mass.  We remember so many soakings in the rain and snow going to and from Mass.   We didn’t seem to be able to see any priests to speak to and so we did not feel very welcome at that time.  Then, if my member servers me one of the curates got the approval of the CBS to hold Mass in the school hall and we were overjoyed.

After that memories of the early days were also seeing the priests coming out on visits to each home.  Father Sean Rogan riding his motorbike on visits round our area, the Offertory Promise envelopes coming in for the first time.

 I remember Father Hanson after the first Offertory Promise collection thanking us for our generosity as he was now able to buy new golf balls instead of second-hand ones!!

I also remember him refusing to take money from me for baptism lines as he said we needed the money more than he did.  When the Parish Priest was measuring he green at Tullymore / Rossnareen he was asked what he was measuring for he replied a church.  A local wit said “Father there’s not enough room for a church but there is enough room for a pub and a bookies”.

We finally got our beautiful Church of the Holy Spirit and it was strange to have seats that didn’t make noises when the children moved or when we knelt down.

I remember one of the priests asking the people who were standing at the back to please sit down as a lot of money had been spent on giving everyone seats.

We still don’t have a car and as we have gotten older we appreciate the nearness of the church. Pity we don’t have the attendance we had then!””

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