Fr Damian celebrates 25 years in the priesthood

By Maurice Garvey

CLONDALKIN village celebrated a milestone for parish priest Fr Damian Farnon, who this week reflects on 25 years ordained as a man of the cloth.

Based in Clondalkin village parish for the last 12 years, Fr Damian is optimistic about the link between the church and the local community in the years ahead.

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Joe Leonard, Fr Damian, Anne Brett (Parish Secretary) and Mary Leonard

“The advantage of being in a community relatively long, is you have seen people grow, by participating in baptisms, schools, GAA and families. You meet people in times of joy and sorrow – even people who don’t normally attend Mass, they do find solace in their faith.

“You have got to build a relationship. I use the analogy of the Lion King and the circle of life.”

Speaking to The Echo in the parish office building, Fr Damian acknowledged how his parish team of volunteers have pro-actively responded to the changing face of Clondalkin during his tenure, and the efforts to “keep the faith alive.”

“The church was built in 1857 – you are only a small speck but I am conscious of the big historical surroundings, the Round Tower, St Brigid’s Well,” he said.

The parish is involved with chaplain work at seven primary schools and three secondary schools, with Fr Damian on the Board of nearby St Joseph’s.

Some of the parish team actively provide services, previously only performed by priests, something Fr Damian picked up on during a parochial stint in Dublin, Texas, prior to his move to Dublin 22.

“There is a mix of nationalities, even if they are Catholic schools, we foster openness and care. The kids are so full of joy and questions. They don’t take it too seriously. It is very challenging but enjoyable.”

He believes the infusion of new demographics into the area in recent years has boosted the church, noting the enthusiasm of Indian Catholics from Kerala who mostly work in the medical industry, and the establishment of a weekly Polish Mass in Knockmitten and a monthly African Mass in the village parish.

“We have had a lot of Polish, Nigerian and Indian families moving here, the new Ireland, bringing a lot of new vibrancy. The model of the parish is very different to the old days.

“We are involved in the Towers Hotel (Direct Provision centre), and were part of the local campaign to keep it open. Even though many of the residents are not necessarily Catholic, there is a justice issue, and we have to do something if it is wrong. These young boys and girls are going to our schools.

“Nowadays, it is not a case of sitting here waiting, we have to be out there, and work for social justice and not just for people who look like us.”

At the Round Tower GAA Club annual Mass, Fr Damian received a picture of the Round Tower by Tommy Keogh, to mark his 25th year anniversary.

“The image of Clondalkin isn’t always the best, but I think Clondalkin is one of the best kept secrets in Dublin. We are lucky to have what we have,” said Fr Damian.

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