04 December 2020, The Tablet

Redemptorist men's confraternity in Clonard closes

Redemptorist men's confraternity in Clonard closes

Belfast city centre.
Peter Morrison/PA

The Redemptorist community in Belfast has hosted the closing Mass of the Men’s Holy Family Confraternity after 123 years in existence.

Members gathered at Clonard monastery for a Mass of thanksgiving and to recall the work of thousands of members since the association’s foundation in July 1897.

In a statement, the Redemptorists described it as “a sad occasion” but said there was much to be grateful and thankful for.

“We hold in prayer tonight all the men, both Redemptorist and lay, who enabled this long tradition of faith to last for so long. Our faith stands on the shoulders of many great men and women,” the community in Clonard tweeted.

In November last year the Clonard Women's Confraternity also closed. The Confraternity of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and St Alphonsus was formally established on 14 July 1897.

Within a week of the women's association being established, the Confraternity of the Holy Family for men was set up.

Many of the first members of the confraternities were workers in Belfast’s linen mills that had sprung up along Falls Road in the latter decades of the 19th century. As West Belfast’s Catholic population grew, the membership of the confraternities also expanded.

The period of the confraternity’s greatest flourishing was in the years between the Golden and Diamond Jubilees (1947-1957).

However, a number of factors contributed to the decline of the Clonard Confraternities, including the changing urban landscape of Belfast and the decline in popularity of confraternities worldwide post Vatican II.

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