Blakestown Church Gathering Minutes: The planned follow up meeting to provide information on the reasons Blakestown church was closed took place on Thursday 12 July in Blakestown Community Resource Centre. The following is the minutes of the meeting.
Minutes of Follow Up Meeting Re Closure of St Mary of the Servants
Blakestown Community Resource Centre
Thursday 12 th July 2018
(Revision 1 20/07/18)
Fr Paul Callan opened the meeting and welcomed everyone. He firstly remembered Lena
O’Riordan and expressed sympathy to her family on her recent passing. He also expressed
sympathy to the families of Patty Halligan and Owen Gilhooley.
Fr Paul then recapped on the reasons on the decision to close Blakestown church; issues
with its state of repair, cost of refurbishment and health and safety concerns for
parishioners. He apologised for the poor level of communication with parishioners
regarding the closure and acknowledged the level of hurt and anger felt by everyone. He
stated that lessons had been learnt by both himself and his colleagues in the Diocese.
Mary Kearney facilitated the meeting and assured everyone that they would have an
opportunity to speak and be heard and asked that everyone present to be respectful to one
another and not interrupt one another.
The meeting was attended by Mr John Langton Diocese Architect, Kevin Moran Buildings
officer and Janes Frain Finance Officer. Mr Langton spoke first and said that he had visited
the church in 2017 and found several issues mainly;
Smell of Damp
Leak in Sacristy
Central Heating System had only one boiler for both the church and the house
Rain/Surface water – issues with drainage and inadequate falloff to mains on street
Foul Water / Sewage – linked to school drains which also have problems
Leaking roof could possibly lead to damage to electrics
No emergency lighting
No Smoke Alarms
He stated that in order to bring the building up to current standards renovations would have
to be carried out and quotations from 2016 were coming in at €200,000 for the church
alone and this does not account for inflation. There were several questions from the floor;
o Would insurance cover any of the costs? It would cover some items but not the Roof
o When was the first inspection called for?
o Who’s costing were these? Costings were from quotations of two independent
o Could there be a drawdown from SHARE to do the repairs?
o Is the church going to open again?
Joe Lawlor asked why the figures were different from the ones given to him when he spoke
to John. He also stated that the damp issue was generated because there was no heating in
the church from 2016 to 2017. He stated that the damage to drains may be being caused
by a tree but no survey was carried out. He said that he has a copy of an email from a service
engineer to Fr Binoy quoting repairs to both boilers at 2,450 EUROS PLUS VAT. This email was sent
to Fr Binoy in December 2016. Joe has requested access to the church building on three
previous occasions in order to have an independent survey carried out but to date he has
not had permission to do this. He had also offered to get two alternative quotations free of
When asked who actually made the decision to close the church, Fr Paul said that there had
been ongoing discussions through various committees – other churches in the area were in
need of repair/refurbishment and it was decided that on looking at the broader picture i.e.
fall off in attender, finances etc. to close Blakestown.
James Frain from the Diocese Finance department spoke and gave a breakdown of what the
different church collections go towards. He confirmed that there is €36,000 in the
Blakestown account of which €16,000 relates to the monies fundraised for the boiler repair.
He also confirmed, following a question from the floor, that the cost of repair of the houses
in Mountview is coming from the SHARE fund. Terry Mc Cabe acknowledged that
Blakestown Parish had received funding from SHARE over the years.
A question was raised as to the future plans for the buildings and land. Fr Paul
acknowledged the concerns of people regarding the security of the church and advised that
the Archbishop has been approached by several communities, principally the Romanian
Orthodox Church who wish to use the church. They would be willing to take on the cost of
the renovations and would be working in co-operation with various other parishes. The
discussions are in the early stages at the moment.
A question from the floor was raised in relation to the availability of a written report and the
need to have such reports for transparency purposes. Any work being undertaken should
have at least 3 quotations – open procurement.
The principal of the senior school Pauline Morley said that the Board of Management of the
school had written to the Diocese regarding access to the schools but to date had no reply.
Several people expressed the need for the people of Blakestown to have a place to worship
and to have their pastoral care needs attended to. It was stated that the needs of the
parishioners was been met in Mountview but the majority of those present felt that this
wasn’t the case as they were not and would not be attending Mountview.
Pastoral Worker – need for a working group.
Nathalie Tracy – politicians are concerned for the people of Blakestown and how
parishioners to be accommodated and their pastoral care attended to.
Mary Kearney stated that there is an exceptional community spirit in Blakestown and there
needs to be some way for the parishioners to come together.
Others asked if the Romanian Orthodox church takes over the building could there be a
possibility of sharing a space.
The need for greater communication from the Diocese was called for and that parishioners
be advised of the future plans for the church.
Due to time constraints the meeting had to be concluded but before doing so Fr Paul again
acknowledged that the parish has been torn apart. He thanked everyone for attending the
meeting and said that he is happy to work with people to see how the parishioners can be
facilitated going forward but stressed that he can only liaise with the pastoral councils as he
has to work within the structures as they are. It was stated by several people that there is
no Pastoral Parish Council (PPC) for Blakestown and that Mountview PPC does not represent