The Dean of Raphoe, Very Rev Arthur Barrett, knew his parish’s first ever Christmas Tree Festival had struck a chord with the community when he had to arrange for extra seating to be brought in to accommodate the large number of people who packed the Friday evening Community Carol Service which marked the formal launch of the festival.
St Eunan’s Cathedral in Raphoe was filled to capacity – and then some – with the church even running out of Orders of Service. Worship at Friday evening’s Service was led by Dean Barrett, Fr Eamonn Kelly and Rev Dr Brian Brown. The Finn Valley Men’s Choir performed a medley of popular Christmas numbers to complement the traditional carols sung by the congregation.
Raphoe’s Festival of Christmas Trees – the brainchild of two parishioners – features almost 50 trees designed by local people, organisations and businesses, with all donations and this evening’s retiring collection going towards the ‘Cathedral Restoration Project 2020’ – which will pay for a substantial renovation of the ancient church.
Dean Barrett thanked the congregation, the wider community in Raphoe and many beyond the town for supporting the festival. He said the event had provided an opportunity for the whole community in Raphoe to come together in worship at a special time of year. “I’m thankful for the friendship and collegiality of Dr Brown and Fr Kelly,” the Dean said, “and their ready acceptance and support of this idea of a Carol Service. Pastor Mervyn Carter apologises that he can’t be here this evening due to other commitments.
“But like this Christmas Tree Festival itself, I believe this – tonight – is a very special occasion and an important witness in the world at this time to our shared faith in the Jesus Christ.”
Dean Barrett expressed his personal gratitude, and that of the parish, to Gladys Barnett and Rosalind Patton whose vision the festival was. The festival will continue until Sunday.