08 October 2023

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (133) 8 October 2023

Inside the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Michael, New Ross, Co Wexford … designed by William Glynn Doolin and built in 1894-1902 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and today is the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XVIII, 8 October 2023).

Later this morning, I hope to be present at the Parish Eucharist in Holy Trinity Church, Old Wolverton. But, before the day begins, I am taking some time early this morning for prayer and reflection.

The Church recently celebrated Saint Michael and All Angels last month (29 September). So in my reflections each morning this week I am continuing the Michaelmas theme of the last two weeks in this way:

1, A reflection on a church named after Saint Michael or his depiction in Church Art;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

The Church of Saint Mary and Saint Michael, New Ross, is an important Gothic Revival church in Co Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint Mary and Saint Michael Church, New Ross, Co Wexford:

In my reflections yesterday, I was revisiting Saint Michael’s in New Ross, which was the parish church of the Co Wexford town for almost a century, from 1806 until 1902.

At one time, New Ross in Co Wexford, had a large number of churches and meeting streets scattered through its streets. In the 19th century, there were at least two Church of Ireland churches, a Quaker meeting house, a Methodist chapel and a number of churches attached to religious orders.

At the end of the Victorian era, Saint Michael’s, the Roman Catholic parish church built on South Street in 1804-1806, no longer seemed to be adequate or elegant enough for the Catholic professional classes and merchants of the old borough, and they decided to build a new church that would not only rival the other churches in the town but also equal Saint Aidan’s Cathedral by AWN Pugin in Enniscorthy and the newly-built ‘Twin Churches’ in Wexford Town.

The new parish church, the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Michael, was built at the junction of Robert Street and Cross Street (originally Cross Lane) in 1894-1902. This church, built on an old Franciscan foundation, was designed in 1894 by the architect Walter Glynn Doolin (1850-1902) in the Early English style, and with a capacity to seat 1,200 people.

A tablet to the memory of the Right Revd Michael Kavanagh (1840-1915), Parish Priest of New Ross and Dean of Ferns, says ‘this beautiful church’ is ‘the enduring monument of his genius and his zeal for the glory of God’ of its builder. However, in truth, the church is the very antithesis of Dean Kavanagh’s grand ambitions.

His original proposal was for a thrifty ‘improvement’ or rebuilding of the then parish church, Saint Michael’s Chapel on South Street. However, his proposals were ruled out by a parish committee that coveted a church to rival those in Enniscorthy and Wexford Town.

Kavanagh negotiated four potential sites for a new church with the landlords of New Ross, the Tottenham family, but the parish committee selected his least preferred site, and over-ruled his preference for a Romanesque style church, selecting instead an architect who was a steadfast advocate of the Gothic Revival.

WG Doolin was born in Dublin, the son of William Doolin of 204 Brunswick Street and his wife Anne Eliza (Glynn). He was educated at Tullabeg College, Castleknock College and Trinity College, Dublin, where he received a BA and a Licentiate in Engineering.

He received his architectural training with his father and in the office of John Joseph O’Callaghan, and later worked in London in the Architects’ Department of the School Board and the office of William Burges.

He had returned to Dublin by the beginning of 1872, when he was living in his father’s house at 204 Great Brunswick Street. By 1875, WG Doolin had offices at 204 Brunswick Street in Dublin and in Waterford. He later worked from 20 Ely Place and 12 Dawson Street, Dublin, and 2 Beresford Street, Waterford.

He designed a theatre in Waterford in 1874, and he then received a number of commissions in the area, particularly in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cashel.

He was regarded as ‘a competent classical scholar, a ripe student of English and foreign literature … and in all that pertained to the arts and sciences a thinker of no mean originality.’ He died at his home, 11 Pembroke Road, Dublin, on 10 March 1902, aged 52, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. His wife, Marion (Creedon) died in 1930.

The principal source of information about Doolin is Gearoid Crookes, ‘The Career and Architectural Works of Walter G Doolin (1850-1902),’ unpublished MA thesis, UCD (1987).

The foundation stone of Doolin’s church was laid on 29 September 1895. It was built by Andrew Cullen of New Ross at a cost of £25,000, and the church was completed in 1902. The church was opened by Bishop Browne of Ferns that year, and the preacher at the opening ceremony was the Jesuit Father Conmee.

The interior includes a pipe organ by Telford and Sons; side altars dating from 1901 by Edmund Sharp (1853-1930) of Dublin; a ‘flèche’-topped high altar (1901) by James Pearse (1839-1900), the Birmingham sculptor who was father of the brothers Patrick and William Pearse, leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin; stained glass by Mayer and Company of Munich and London; and an exposed hammer-beam timber roof.

The carving throughout the church and the external sculptures are the work of John Aloysius O’Connell of Cork.

The church has many similarities with the churches Doolin designed around the same time in Nenagh, Co Tipperary (1892-1906), and Castlebar, Co Mayo (1897-1901), sharing features as the cruciform plan form, aligned along a liturgically-correct axis.

The slender profile of the coupled openings underpinning a mediaeval Gothic theme, with the polygonal apse defined by cusped East Windows, and the turreted spire embellishing the tower make this church a prominent feature in New Ross.

This is an eight-bay, double-height Catholic church, designed on a cruciform plan, with a five-bay, double-height nave opening into five-bay, single-storey lean-to side aisles. There are single-bay, two-bay deep, double-height, double-pile transepts centred on a single-bay, double-height apse at the crossing on a projecting polygonal plan.

The church has a single-bay, six-stage tower built on a square plan and supporting an octagonal spire.

The details of the church include cut-granite coping to the gables on gabled ‘Hollow’ kneelers with Celtic Cross finials to the apexes, a cut-granite gabled bellcote at the apex framing a cast-bronze bell, cut-granite ‘Cavetto’ corbels, stepped buttresses, paired lancet windows in the clerestories and side aisles, lancet windows in tripartite arrangements in the transepts, pointed-arch windows in the apse, a pair of shouldered square-headed door openings at the west front in a pointed-arch recess, mosaic tiled cut-granite steps, a pair of pointed-arch windows, and a Rose Window.

Inside, the church has a full-height interior open into the roof with a pointed-arch tripartite arcade at the west end supporting the arcaded choir gallery with a timber panelled pipe organ (1902).

The pointed-arch arcades have polished Aberdeen granite pillars with hood mouldings on foliate label stops. There is an exposed hammer-beam timber roof, a ‘flèche’-topped, cut-veined white marble high altar below stained-glass memorial windows (1899), stained glass memorial windows (1899), and Gothic-style timber Stations of the Cross.

The church was well maintained, although both the exterior and the interior were reordered in line with the liturgical reforms introduced by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Nevertheless, it remains one of the important Gothic Revival churches that decorate the landscape of Co Wexford.

An angel with the coat-of-arms of New Ross on the west façade (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 21: 17-24 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 33 ‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34 When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35 But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” 39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ 41 They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.’

42 Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:

“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes”?

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44 The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.’

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

The High Altar in the church was designed by James Pearse (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), is ‘After the Storm.’ This theme is introduced today:

Cyclone Freddy, one of the longest-lasting tropical cyclones ever recorded, wreaked havoc on Mozambique and surrounding countries in March 2023. The storm result in thousands of deaths and many more displaced. Storms like Cyclone Freddy are becoming more regular and intense as a result of the climate crisis.

After the cyclone passed, affected countries still had to battle continuous rain and power outages which made search and rescue efforts difficult. The storm has also caused severe flooding, swept away roads and left buildings buried in mud.

The Acting Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church of Mozambique and Angola, the Most Revd Carlos Simao Matsinhe, told USPG at the time:

‘Our bishops in the four dioceses of Zambezia, Niassa, Rio Pungwe, and Nampula report that there is an urgent need for emergency food, clothing, tents, and plastic materials to offer immediate protection. There is also a great need for soap, basic sanitary and water purification supplies to help prevent the outbreak of water-related diseases like cholera, which has already claimed lives in some places. There is wreckage among the many churches, clergy residences, and church schools. We urgently need to save lives.’

USPG responded by releasing emergency funds to the dioceses of Zambezia, Niassa and Ri Pungwe. We remain in communication with our partners in the area, to offer prayerful and practical support.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (8 October 2023, Trinity XVIII) invites us to pray in these words:

O Lord, even the winds and waves obey your voice.
Calm the winds and still the seas.
Keep us safe
Grant us peace this night.

A figure above the west door shows Christ the King in blessing, surrounded by figures representing the four Evangelists (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
increase in us your gift of faith
that, forsaking what lies behind
and reaching out to that which is before,
we may run the way of your commandments
and win the crown of everlasting joy;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Post Communion Prayer:

We praise and thank you, O Christ, for this sacred feast:
for here we receive you,
here the memory of your passion is renewed,
here our minds are filled with grace,
and here a pledge of future glory is given,
when we shall feast at that table where you reign
with all your saints for ever.

A stained-glass window shows the Holy Trinity vertically and the Holy Family horizontally (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Yesterday’s Reflection

Continued Tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Four Wexford saints represented on the arcaded choir gallery at the west end of the church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

No comments: