Church forced to ask Massgoers to fund windows

ONE of Waterford city’s proudest parishes is being forced to ask its mainly elderly congregation to dig even deeper and help save their Church’s magnificent stained glass windows.

Now they want the business and wider community to come on board and support the worthy fund.

The nine windows at St John’s Church desperately need restoration, or else it is feared they could fall in. The parish has failed in its bid to get either Government or National Lottery funding and the city council can’t help out either.

Now the tireless fundraising committee is making another appeal to the Church’s mainly elderly, 3,000-strong congregation to dig even deeper and finance the works which will cost over €360,000. They’re also issuing a fresh appeal to businesses in their community to sponsor the renovation of a windows or even part of a window.

The windows, considered to be fine works of religious art, are in danger of falling in if conservation work is not carried out on them. They depict various saints, including the patrons of this diocese, well known biblical scenes as well as the church’s founder Bishop Foran.

The fundraising committee set up by St John’s Parish Council two years ago has to date raised €71,199. But they’ve a long way to go. Parish priest Fr Gerry McNamara and fundraising committee member Kathleen O’Hagan say they face an uphill battle to raise enough funds to restore the remaining six windows behind the altar.

“St John’s Church has just been repainted and that project was funded by the parish with no outside help. Now we have to go back to the community again to raise money for the restoration of the windows,” said Kathleen O’Hagan.

“Many of our parishioners are old-age pensioners and they have been fantastic considering what they are getting into their hands every week. One pensioner walked in with an envelope recently with €500.

“We are in an awful situation where we are making people feel guilty. They are on board and they are doing their best. They are supporting a second basket collection and putting their money in. They are also contributing to an envelope collection. There’s not much more we can ask these people to do.”

Fr Gerry McNamara agreed. He said their parishioners took great pride in St John’s Church and recalled that when the first renovated window returned to the church there was a queue of people to see it ” There is a great sense of belonging by the people. Only for them you might as well close St John’s. It’s the people of the parish that keep the church going and it’s they who had funded the renovation of the church and windows so far.”

A car raffle and the distribution of special collection boxes to households throughout the city centre parish are among the fundraising initiatives being organised for the window restoration project to supplement the special monthly basket collection at Masses.

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