St Patricks Church, 1 St John Street, Coatbridge

Telephones - House: 01236 606808, Hall: 01236 606116
1996 ST PATRICK'S TEAROOM opens on 11th June. The Parish Priest feels that St Patrick's Hall is a prime site for a tearoom which would be of great social benefit to the parish and the wider community, but will it catch on, will it work. Time will tell.

On 27 September St Patrick's Shop opens selling all kinds of religious objects. It works hand in hand, side by side with the Tearoom.

1999 The centenary chapel was receiving a facelift and on a visit to Fatima the Parish Priest found a set of ceramic stations of the cross which are now incorporated into the tiling of the chapel. Likewise paintings of The Good Shepherd, The Garden of Gethsemane and the Last Supper by artist Veronica Gilday are accommodated in the tiling.

The New Millenium, 2000 St. Patrick's Parish celebrated the New Millenium with great style but also in a deeply spiritual way. As the bells were ringing to welcome the year 2000 the Parish Hall was packed to capacity with parishioners and friends

attending the Annual Charity Ball wishing each other well as we stepped into a new millennium. On the spiritual side a "millennium" candle was lit at the Sacred Heart altar and remained lit day and night for the entire duration of the year 2000. The Scottish Hierarchy designated St. Patrick's together with other central parishes throughout Scotland as a "Pilgrimage" church. Extra services were arranged to enable people to gain special indulgences. Many people from far and near flocked to St. Patrick's.

2000 June A group from the parish under the leadership of James O'Neill went on pilgrimage to the Passion Play in Oberammergau.

2001 The existing Parish Hall although still in good condition after the 1996 renovation and extension was found to be inadequate to provide for the social activities of the parish. The tearoom established in August 1996 for one thing had outgrown the hall. It was decided that it needed to be replaced by a bigger building with better facilities. This undertaking proved to be one of the miracles of our time. The work on building the present structure began in March 2001 and was the venue for a wedding reception

on 16 June 2001, a period of twelve weeks. During this time the tearoom ceased to trade for only three weeks as the new hall was being constructed while the existing hall still remained. The new premises provides two function rooms, a large basement/storeroom, an enlarged shop area providing religious goods, toilets, baby changing facilities, guestroom and bar. Extra ground was "bought" from North Lanarkshire Council for the nominal cost of £1,500. George Calder was the builder and provided great value for a final cost of £282,000. Since St. Patrick's Tearoom is a Limited Company and registered for VAT it was possible to reclaim about £40,000 for VAT receipts.

At a parish meeting the Parish Priest agreed a deal with the committee that they could decide on a name for the smaller hall and he would name the larger hall and so the halls are called Iona and Mayo representing the Scottish and Irish roots of the parish.

2001: 17 June The Catholic community of Scotland and further afield were shocked and saddened at the news of the death of Thomas Joseph Cardinal Winning the leading Catholic churchman

in Scotland. He was 76 years of age and left his mark on many aspects of Scottish life. He was credited with moving the Catholic Church from the edges to the centre of Scottish society.

2003 The final piece of the hall is put in place. A tower is erected and a large storeroom is added to the shop. An extra kitchen is added on the ground floor of the tower to cope with catering for functions. There is now a clock in the tower with synchronised bells at the church. The cost was £43,000. Again money paid in VAT was reclaimed.

2005 April A cloud of sadness descended upon the world with the news of the death of Pope John Paul 11. Several members of the St. Patrick's community were attending a dinner and dance in the hall for a social celebration of Easter when the news came that the Holy Father was breathing his last. The function ended and the church was opened to allow people to come and pray for his happy and peaceful death. Many came to join in the continuous chain of prayer until midnight. The following week the church was full to capacity for a special mass for the repose of his soul.

2005: May We have a new Pope. The white smoke appears high above the Vatican buildings. The announcement is made. Cardinal Ratzinger is elected and the catholic world rejoices. He takes the name Benedict XVI. A mass of thanksgiving is celebrated in St. Patrick's and also in Motherwell Cathedral. St. Patrick's is packed and a bus load go to Motherwell. Habemus Papa!

2006 Renovation of St. Patrick's Church building Practically the whole of this year was taken up with the most extensive overhaul the church had since the day it was first built. The early part of the year was taken up with work on the exterior and the latter part with interior work. During this time there was tremendous inconvenience for everyone but no complaints. The church was 110 years old and the old lady was showing her age and in serious need of repair.

THE EXTERIOR work is best described in the words of Archie Richmond of Richmond Architects, RIAS Accreditation in Building Conservation, who secured the contract of designing and guiding the work: "CONSERVATION ROOF WORKS AT ST. PATRICK'S R.C. CHURCH, COATBRIDGE"

Project Summary Sheet

The above project consisted of conservation repairs to the existing B listed church building including full external scaffolding, stripping existing Scottish slates, carrying out sarking and rot repairs to roof timbers, re-felting roof, renewing all lead flashings to roofs, re-slating roofs with new Burlington slates, installation of roof anchors, repairs and renewal of roof lantern above sacristy, renewal of gutters, hoppers and downpipes in cast iron, stone repairs and pointing, installation of lightning conductor, repair to upper level clerestory leaded glass windows, internal rot and plaster repair in sacristy area and external paint work on completion of the works."

Following receipt of the statutory consents, the preparation of tender documents and obtaining competitive tenders, the main contractor for the project, R & R Construction (Scotland) Ltd. was appointed. The works commenced on site on 16 January 2006 and were completed on 14 July 2006.

This part of the work was completed two days ahead of schedule

and the Parish Priest expressed his total satisfaction with the work of the architect and the contractors.

THE INTERIOR There was no main contractor for the interior work. Contractors dealt directly with the Parish Priest having been appointed by him on a competitive basis. The work consisted of Painting & Decorating, Woodwork, Marble work, Heating, Lighting, Tiling, Flooring, Plumbing. After the roofing the next biggest contract was the painting and decorating. Every square inch of the church got a makeover. There was extensive gold leaf restoration in the sanctuary area. There was much artwork and various inscriptions added including Laudate Dominum Omnes Gentes (Praise the Lord all nations) above the main altar.

The sanctuary lamp was returned to a central point in the sanctuary drawing one's eye to the tabernacle. Marble panels were fitted in the sanctuary. New marmoleum floor covering was fitted throughout with some liturgical designs inserted in the work. The heating system was overhauled and upgraded. New lighting was installed throughout. Toilets were completely

reconstructed providing access for the disabled.

The old side entrance which is wheelchair friendly was completely refurbished and given the dignity of a proper church entrance. It also got a new name, Mary's Gate. A restored statue of Our Lady welcomes people and the Holy Water Font is a restored baptismal font from the 19th. Century. This work was started in August 2006 and completed on 15 December 2006. During this time weekday masses were celebrated in the Iona suite and weekend masses in the church under difficult conditions. Every Friday a major cleanup was completed by volunteers. Again the Parish Priest expressed his satisfaction with the entire job and praised the parishioners for their forbearance throughout the year.

The cost of the entire project was £597,793 but because St. Patrick's is a listed building we were refunded £67,969 for VAT payments.

The current family of parishioners enthusiastically took ownership of the project and supported a robust fundraising campaign. A five year plan was put in place and early signs were very

encouraging. Aspects of the fund-raising plan were amongst others, Buy a Souvenir Slate, (from the old roof), Raffle for a Car, but the main fundraiser was a Monthly Draw. This had 650 members paying £5 a month for 5 years. This alone was designed to make a profit of more that £150,000.

2006: June St. Patrick's High School closes its doors for the last time and the school is merged with Columba High School. The merged schools enter a new school building under the name of St. Andrew. Many people in the St. Patrick's community including the Parish Priest expressed serious regret at this development. St. Patrick's had lost a prime site close to the Town Centre but worse still a name had disappeared that had been synonymous with Catholic Education throughout the West of Scotland. 160 years of history and tradition had been wiped out. Nowhere in Lanarkshire is there a High School with
St. Patrick above the door. How or why it happened is a mystery. There were many questions but few if any convincing answers.

2006: December One of the first services in the newly refurbished St. Patrick's was the Inter Faith Carol Service with our friends and neighbours from St. Andrew's Church of Scotland. This is now an Annual feature which is alternated yearabout and eagerly anticipated.

2007: 7th February The President of Ireland, President Mary McAleese while on a visit to Scotland paid a visit to St. Patrick's Church where she signed the Baptismal and Marriage registers and afterwards to St. Patrick's Tearoom where she was given a cordial welcome. In her speech she paid tribute to the multitudes of Irish people who found refuge in Coatbridge during and after famine times and made mention of the contribution they made to life and industry throughout Scotland.

2007 Stained glass windows were installed in the Centenary Chapel following the theme of the Mysteries of Light. Stained glass designer and manufacturer Moira Parker of Rainbow Glass Studios, Prestwick, sat with the Parish Priest and Pastoral Assistant on several occasions to discuss details in the design.

2007: August A new school is opened on the former site of
St. Patrick's. It is occupied by Coatbridge High School. The community of St. Patrick's wish them well in their new home.
2008 More stained glass was installed inside and outside the Centenary Chapel following the gospel themes of the Call of the Apostles and the Gathering of the Children the Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the Trial of Jesus before Pilate. All of this work was financed by generous donations from members of our community. In total 9 windows cost £20,063.50

2008: April A lasting monument to the former St. Patrick's High School is erected at the entrance to Mary's Gate, St. Patrick's Church and is financed by contributions from former pupils. It is considered that this is the only appropriate venue to erect such a monument. Worked into the design in stone is the school crest and celtic cross. On the 11 June there was a Mass of thanksgiving for all that the school had achieved and a dedication of the monument.

2008: 2 September was a happy day for the parish community. One of our parishioners, Alex Stewart is ordained to the Permanent Diaconate. The parish support him in prayer. His ministry includes pastoral work at Monklands Hospital and in the merged parishes of St. Stephen's and St. Bernard's, Coatbridge.

2009: February - June "Father" Willis organ from Clifton Parish Church, Coatbridge finds a new home in St. Patrick's Church, Coatbridge.

This was a remarkable event. It was obvious that the church organ was nearing the end of its life and in need of serious and expensive rebuilding. The organ tuner was aware that there was an excellent pipe organ in the nearby Clifton Parish Church which was shortly due to close down. Perhaps an approach could be made to the Board of St. Andrew's Church ofScotland with which Clifton Parish Church was due to merge. The approach met with a favourable response and so the work of dismantling, storing and rebuilding began. The work was completed in June to the complete satisfaction of everyone. The whole project galvanised the relationship of the Catholic and Church of Scotland Communities.

2009: Sunday 9th November A Service of Dedication and Thanksgiving for the gift of the organ takes place in St. Patrick's Church.

2010: 19 March On the Feast of St. Joseph there is a new arrival at Mary's Gate. A beautiful statue of St. Joseph has been gifted to St. Patrick's by the Sisters of Mercy after the closure of the Convent at Garnethill. It was gratefully received and given a permanent home at Mary's Gate.

2010: June A group of 50 people from St. Patrick's visit Oberammergau for the Passion Play. Again this was led by James O'Neill. It was combined with leisure time in various parts of Germany and Austria.

2010: September Pope Benedict XVI visits the UK and begins his visit in Scotland. The highlight of the Scottish visit was a Papal Mass at Bellahouston Park on 16 September. Like all other parishes St. Patrick's prepared enthusiastically and vigorously for the visit. 900 pilgrims departed from the church in a fleet of buses. Hundreds more waved them off. It was a sight that will remain forever in the memory and a most wonderful and memorable day was experienced. The Holy Father endeared himself to all. The entire visit was a resounding success. Later, on a visit to the parish, Cardinal O'Brien expressed his gratitude to the Parish
Priest for the response of St. Patrick's Parish to the Papal Visit in terms of attendance and financial support.

2011 On 11 June the Tearoom celebrates its 15th Anniversary. It did catch on and provides a great service for the people of Coatbridge and further afield, thanks to the wonderful voluntary staff who keep it up and going.

2011: July Plans are in hand currently to run a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2012. The level of interest shown meant that to satisfy demand two trips will be run in September and October 2012.

2011: August Ten young people from the parish attend the World Youth Day in Madrid to share some time with the Holy Father Pope Benedict.

2012 - THE HOLY LAND PILGRIMAGES. Father Eamonn, the Parish Priest had been on a private pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2010 to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of his priesthood. On returning he frequently made reference to his experiences in the Holy Land and often applied this to the gospel message.

This whetted the appetite of some parishioners who wished to explore the possibility of a Parish Pilgrimage. The Parish Priest announced an information evening having researched and surveyed various Tour Companies. This information dealt with things like itinerary, departure dates and cost. The response to the information evening was overwhelming to the extent that in the end it was decided to run two trips so that nobody would be disappointed. It was decided to run a 10 day pilgrimage in September 2012 and an 8 day pilgrimage the following month. Before too long both pilgrimages were fully booked and those who took part in both found the experience very rewarding and in terms of the gospel very enriching. A regular comment would be "It brought the scriptures alive". Everyone had a highlight place or event. While for some it was Bethlehem, Jerusalem or Bethany for others it was Sea of Galilee, Nazareth or Cana.

All Saints Travel were the preferred Travel Company, Sr. Moira, Pastoral Assistant was the Pilgrimage Organiser, Joe Bancewitz produced a fine Pilgrimage Booklet for both trips, Anne Morrow (September) and Fiona Pitcaithly (October) directed the music and the Spiritual Director was the Parish Priest, Fr. Eamonn, who had the pleasant "task" of leading both pilgrimages.

2013: On 11 February the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Church throughout the world was shocked at the unexpected announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he would retire from his Pontificate on Thursday 28 February. While the initial reaction around St. Patrick’s was surprise and shock it quietly dawned upon us that it was a carefully considered decision by the Holy Father in the light of his failing health and physical strength. We await the election of a new Pope and look forward to a new era in Church Leadership.

2013: 13th MarchThe wait was over and Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, from Buenos Aires (Argentina), was elected the 266th pope. Pope Francis made history by becoming the first Latin American to be elected pontiff.

2013: March Pope Benedict XVI who resigned as Pope continues to reside in one of the Vatican properties. This was the first time that a Pope had resigned for many centuries. It was clear that his health was failing.

2013: May Bishop Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell Diocese resigns. His failing eyesight was just one of his health concerns. He enjoyed the good wishes of the clergy and the people of the Diocese. He had been Bishop from 1982. Bishop Toal of the Diocese of Argyle and the Isles was appointed as Apostolic Administrator of Motherwell Diocese.

2013: 8th June Drumpark School, a Special Needs Secondary and Primary School was sited where the former Coatbridge High School had been. Drumpark School had been in Bargeddie before this. Since the move to Coatbridge, it is served from St Patrick’s. The Parish Priest, on the occasion of the First Holy Communion, commented "Drumpark School enriches our parish community".

2014 Fr Jake Otonko, a Nigerian priest who occasionally frequents St Patrick’s, approached the Parish Priest for help. He wanted to build a hospital in his native region as they had no medical facilities worth talking about. There was a serious risk to life in getting to the nearest hospital. The Parish Priest responded to his appeal and established a fund. A target of £25,000 was set but, knowing the generosity of St Patrick’s Parishioners, the target was soon surpassed and finally realised £64,415. A cheque was presented to a happy Fr Jake at a function in the Hall.

2014: March St Patrick’s Mass performed in the Church by the Diocesan Choir as part of the St Patrick’s Festival weekend.

2014: 29 April Bishop Toal was formally appointed as Bishop of Motherwell Diocese. There was unanimous approval for this appointment amongst the clergy.

2014: 24 June The Cathedral in Motherwell was packed to the rafters with clergy and laity for the installation of Bishop Toal as Bishop of Motherwell. It was a joyful event.

2016: May A group of 55 people were led by the Parish Priest to Rome. It was both pilgrimage and holiday. It started with 2 days/nights in Assisi, and on the journey to Rome there was a stop at Cascia to visit the shrine of St Rita. A great time was enjoyed by all and many friendships established.

2016: Sep A group of 50 was led by the Parish Priest on a pilgrimage to Poland. All the usual places of interest were included in the Itinerary – Salt Mines, places of religious interest, concentration camp, lost purses, lost passports – it had everything.

2017: 7th May Diocesan Choir from Argyle and the Isles visited St Patrick’s and sung the 12 o’clock Mass – which included some beautiful Celtic music – the group included 3 or 4 priests. The Parish Priest wondered how 3 or 4 priests could get away on tour for a whole week!

2017: June Pilgrimage to Fatima. About 50 people joined the Pilgrims Group, led by the Parish Priest. This was a real bonding experience. It was a truly spiritual experience. No pilgrimage from Coatbridge to Portugal would be complete without a visit to the Estadio Nacional in Lisbon before we headed for Fatima! A kind pilgrim donated a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Fatima to St Patrick’s Centenary Chapel.

2018: 9th Mar Desecration of Centenary Chapel. This was a sad and black event in the history of the parish. The Centenary Chapel, with the Blessed Sacrament exposed, is open for private prayer and worship. One Saturday afternoon, a person, still unknown, entered the chapel, smashed the Monstrance and broke up the Sacred Host. The Parish Priest was visibly shaken and emotionally upset that such a terrible thing could have happened in our church.

Police were called, but nothing ever come of it. The PP immediately suspended Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, until a more robust and vigilant team was established. This was quickly achieved with many volunteers coming forward. The Centenary Chapel became the oasis of peace and prayer once again that it had been from 1996.

2018: April As a consequence of the above unfortunate incident, CCTV cameras were installed to cover areas of the church and presbytery. A direct alert link to the police station was also installed in case of an emergency.

2018: 10 Nov Launch of Book by Dr. Robert Corrins "St Patrick’s, Coatbridge and the Great War, 1914-1918 – A Roll of Honour". The book was Launched at the 10 am Mass on 10 November, during Mass the names of all those soldiers on the Roll of Honour were read and prayed for.

2018: 15-18 Nov As part of the centenary celebrations for the 1918 Education Act, the specially commissioned Icon of Jesus the Teacher (depicting different aspects of Catholic Education in Scotland) visited St Patrick’s on its way around Scotland.

2018: December The Friends together Club met for the first time on 2 December and has continued to meet on the first Saturday of every month since then. This Club, which is intended for boys, girls, men and women with special needs, is one of the great success stories of St Patrick’s. The PP expressed his pleasure at the success of the Club and is quick to acknowledge the tremendous response to the appeal for help, and also for funds.

2019: 17 Feb We had a visit from TERN TV, who were compiling a documentary programme for BBC TV on First Holy Communion. Our First Holy Communicants looked very well and did us proud. The programme was to be shown on TV in May 2020.

2019: 17 Mar A choir from Cork City, 40 in number, visited St Patrick’s for 12 o’clock Mass on St Patrick’s Day. They received a typical warm welcome from the congregation and afterwards were treated to a St Patrick’s brand of hospitality in the Tearoom.

2019: 24 Mar The church kneelers had seen better days and a firm from Liverpool, Hayes & Finch did an excellent job in re-upholstering the kneelers. No excuse now for being uncomfortable at prayer.

2019: 23 May The people of Motherwell Diocese were saddened at the news of the death of Bishop Devine. Although he had been in poor health, his death came as a shock. Many people reflected on the solid leadership he gave to the Diocese for more than 30 years.

2019: May We have new neighbours at St Patrick’s and a new street, St Patrick’s Court. A new housing complex was completed and opened straight across from our front door.

2019: May & June Both Sr Moira and Fr Eamonn celebrated Golden Jubilees in priesthood and religious life. It was marked with Mass followed by food in the Tearoom. Half of these 50 years have been spent in St Patrick’s.

2019: June New Marble steps were fitted in the Sanctuary and hand rails were provided in keeping with the Disability Discrimination Act. The PP was very pleased with the work and says that he himself is one of those who benefit from the hand rails.

2019: July The PP took a few days off to get himself fitted with a new hip. He was pleased with the five star treatment at the Golden Jubilee International Hospital and in no time at all, was back on the job.

2020: March World-wide pandemic struck the human race and decimated all areas of living – political, social, sporting and religious. It was the worst disaster to hit the human race in living memory and possibly for all time: a Corona Virus, with the name Covid-19. It was highly contagious and deadly. In order to limit the spread of the virus, drastic measures had to be taken. Extraordinary times demanded extraordinary measures. We were living in unprecedented times. On 19th March, the Feast of St Joseph, we were instructed to cease the celebration of Holy Mass. On 21st March we got an instruction from the Diocese to lock up churches completely. Drastic, but necessary measures. Churches could not open, even for private prayer.

In order to keep in touch with as many of our people as possible, we started to stream Mass every day on YouTube. This proved a great comfort to many people and a life saver for the pastoral team. It gave us the feeling that we were still connecting with our people. This arrangement continues to the present time, but on 26th June we were allowed to open the church for private prayer and on 15th July we were allowed to celebrate Mass in the church but with numbers restricted to 50. There was a restriction on numbers in Church for all church gatherings, e.g 20 for weddings, funerals and baptisms. The distance allowed between people stands at 2 metres and face masks (coverings) must be worn. People must sanitise hands on entering and leaving church. A new group of volunteers was established "the Covid-19 Team" – this group were charged with the responsibility of making sure that Government guidelines/instructions were adhered to in relation to distancing etc. They worked tirelessly to keep us all safe.

The question on everyone's lips is "when will we get back to normal?" Nobody can give a definite answer. The answer is . . . somewhere in the future.

Many say that we may never see life again as it was in the past.

2020: April The Sacraments of First Reconciliation, First Holy Communion and Confirmation were all postponed from April/May because of Covid-19.

These Sacraments were administered in September so that the children involved would not miss out on a vital part of their spiritual development.

2020: 1st and 2nd September First Confessions.
2020: 3rd and 5th September Confirmation
2020: 12th and 13th September First Holy Communion
2020: 19th September First Holy Communion for Drumpark School for special needs children

2020: 15th Sep Diaconate Ordination. The parish community got a great lift during this time of Pandemic with the Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate of parishioner George Frame. The PP was overjoyed that such a wonderful event should be celebrated in our parish. He wishes George every good wish and success in his ministry.

Amid the difficulties imposed upon the people by Covid-19, the Parish Priest brought the curtain down on his ministry with a happy note, the award of the Diocesan Benemerenti Medal to five parishioners; John Halavage, Joseph Bancewicz, Maura Coll, Sr Moira Duffy and Charlie Coogans. Bishop Toal visited the parish and presented the medals on 21st Sep. The Parish Priest was visibly pleased and remarked that all 5 are worthy recipients.

DEPARTURE Fr Eamonn Sweeney, the PP for 25 years retires from his office, having reached retirement age. Sr Moira, the Pastoral Assistant, and Kathleen McArdle, the housekeeper, both of whom arrived in St Patrick’s with him, retire also. In a farewell talk, Fr Sweeney thanked Sr Moira for her tireless work in the parish and Kathleen for being an excellent housekeeper. He said that they would be leaving with heavy hearts but with many treasured memories. They left St Patrick’s on 29th Sep.

ARRIVAL  29th Sep Fr Kevin McGoldrick arrives as Parish Priest at St Patrick’s. The parish community welcomes him as their new Parish Priest and wish him a long and successful ministry.

A new era for St Patrick’s begins.

NOTE 1: In the first decade of the 21st. Century (2000-2009) 842 baptisms took place, 321 couples were married and 464 funeral services were conducted in St. Patrick's.

During the same 10 year period the St Patrick's community contributed to Special Collections for various charities the amount of £45,519. The Parish Priest is very pleased with this as it shows that the Gospel message of caring for others is alive and well in St Patrick's.

NOTE 2: On 24 August 1995 Father Eamonn Sweeney and Sister Moira Duffy arrived and formed the Pastoral Team. Sixteen years later this team is still in place and although they are not as young as they used to be they still treasure every new day in St. Patrick'. They always acknowledge the support and co-operation they receive from the community in all that they do.

NOTE 3: On retiring from his office on 29 September 2020 as Parish Priest of St Patrick’s Parish, the Parish Priest, Fr Eamonn Sweeney, felt it was appropriate that after 25 years of ministry he should give an account of his stewardship, at least that part of it that relates to the Sacraments. During his time, there were 2,059 Baptisms, 668 marriages and 1,263 funeral services.

NOTE 4: Fr Sweeney takes up residence as a retired priest at St Bridget’s Parish in Newmains, but plans to spend considerable periods of time with family members in Co Mayo.