St. Joseph the Artisan Church was built in the late 1960’s. It was blessed by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid on 12 October 1969. The church was a very simple design compared to the large churches built in Ireland before it. Since it first opened its doors in 1969, only minor works were carried out on the building. The Parish of Bonnybrook celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2019 so a decision was made in 2016 to do some reparative work to the building. As the structure was of breeze block construction, it had no insulation and was very difficult to heat in colder weather. So insulating the interior of the building was a priority.
Around that time it was suggested that Bonnybrook Parish should apply for funding to the Albert Gubay Charitable Foundation for funding for this work but also for any other renovations that would improve the church. A list of renovations was prepared which included a new sanctuary, new windows and new roof were submitted to the Gubay Foundation. In December 2017, our parish was blessed with the news that we had been approved the highest grant from the Albert Gubay Charitable Foundation for that year. The Archdiocese of Dublin decided that the Share Fund would also contribute to the renovation fund which meant that we could proceed with most of the renovations on our list.
James Ahern Architects were appointed to oversee the project, prepare the tender brief and produce drawings for the renovations. Following the tendering process it was decided that the construction would be carried out by Duke Construction. The project was expected to take 5 months to complete. The church closed at the end of September 2018 and renovations started immediately. During the removal of the sanctuary, the altar was partially destroyed as the marble stands that the altar table sat on were embedded into the concrete floor of the sanctuary itself and could not be removed without damaging them.
Altar and Ambo
Fr. Joe recounts the providential encounter that led to the World Meeting of Families Papal Mass Alter and Ambo coming to Bonnybrook Parish.
I was attending a meeting in Clonliffe College in November 2018, which finished early. While there I bumped into Fr. Damian McNiece and we discussed the renovations and the reopening ceremony. In the course of our conversation Damian asked me if I knew of any parish that might be looking for an Altar and Ambo? These were created for the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families that took place in the Phoenix Park in August 2018. I smiled and told him about the problem we had removing our altar and that the damage done meant that we needed a new one. Damian explained that the items might just be too big for Bonnybrook but nonetheless might be worth looking at.
Though I was extremely interested, I said that I would not take the items purely because of their significance as they would need to fit into the plans that we had already agreed with our Architect. I discussed this with Byron McGuirk, the renovations project architect and he agreed that the items would have to fit into our plans but at the same time it would be a shame not to look at the possibilities of bringing the items to Bonnybrook.
Byron discussed the Altar and Ambo with Fr. Damian he thought they looked beautiful and would certainly fit well into our designs and plans. He still had reservations about the size but stated that it would be a shame not to examine the possibility as they would add so much to the work and they would mean so much to the people of Bonnybrook.
Sr. Irene, one of our parish sisters, John Matthews, the chairperson of our Parish Finance Committee and I, travelled to Maghera to see the Altar and Ambo. Byron amended the architectural drawings of the sanctuary to incorporate the Altar and Ambo and assured us that they would fit beautifully into the design. We arrived in Maghera and we were welcomed by Sean O’Hagan the son of John Bosco O’Hagan, owner of Specialist Joinery Group, the company that created the Altar and Ambo. We talked over lunch about the work underway in our church and the kind of parish we are in. Sean was very familiar with the area as the company did some work in the Northside Shopping Centre right beside us. We then went to see the Altar and as soon as we saw both the Altar and Ambo together, we were in awe at their beauty which made us more determined to bring them to our church. On our return journey to Dublin we called Byron to express our interest in obtaining the Altar and Ambo for Bonnybrook. He said that he would increase the size of the Sanctuary area to incorporate them.
I wrote to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin requesting that he gift the Altar and Ambo to Bonnybrook Parish. It took several weeks of anticipation before we finally heard the good news that the Altar and Ambo would come to Bonnybrook. Everyone was delighted. I was ecstatic to say the least, to think that the Altar and Ambo which had been used in the Phoenix Park by Pope Francis would find its permanent home with us in Bonnybrook Parish.
I would like to thank John Bosco O’Hagan and everyone at Specialist Joinery Group in Maghera, Fr. Tim Bartlett (Director of the World Meeting of Families), Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and everyone that were involved in the renovations project. I wish to say a special thank you to Fr. Damian McNiece. From the moment Fr. Damian asked me if I knew of any parish that would be interested in the Altar and Ambo, I believe that providence lead them to us in Bonnybrook Parish. Nothing happens without a reason and it was providential that I should meet Damian on that day. These beautiful pieces will be treasured by the people of Bonnybrook for many years to come. They are at the heart of our beautiful new church and are a symbol of the New Beginnings in Bonnybrook Parish.
When commissioned to make the furniture for the sanctuary for the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families in the Phoenix Park in August 2018, John Bosco O’Hagan, owner of Specialist Joinery Group, said that it was “without doubt” the most important project that we will do in our lifetime; “Everything is to be quite simple. It is all straight lines and a simple manufacture. There is nothing elaborate about the whole thing. The Pope is a simple man and he seems to live a very simple life, so the furniture is simple as well.”
The central brass design on the front of the Altar is based on the a vine growing up and out to the sides.
People throughout Ireland were asked to send in their prayer petitions in the run up to the World Meeting of Families gathering in August 2018. All these petitions were placed into the body of the Altar before the Mass in the Phoenix Park.
The renovations of St. Joseph the Artisan church were completed on time and the reopening ceremony took place on Saturday, 9 March 2019. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin led the reopening Mass on this wonderful occasion. He also performed the consecration ceremony of the Altar. We were delighted to also have John Bosco O’Hagan, Byron McGuirk and many of the people involved in the church renovations as our special guests at the reopening ceremony. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will celebrate our Golden Jubilee Mass on Sunday, 29 September 2019 at 11:30am in our Church. This is a very important moment in the life of our Parish. The renovations of our Church were the first part of the preparations for this anniversary.