From the 1980s to the early 2000s the Franciscan friars lived in a number of locations around Belfast; St. Joseph’s, by the docks, Victoria Parade and Hughenden Avenue, to name a few. Our missions and presences are always changing and in the early 2000s, sadly, we withdrew from Belfast.
Friars who have served in Belfast continue to have strong links with individuals and families there. Brother Salvador, for example, has maintained over the years a generous ministry to the prisons, travelling up from our friary in Athlone to help run retreats in the city prisons.
Happily, we have been making new links with Belfast in recent weeks. Last month, three friars were asked to lead a retreat for the students of the Catholic Chaplaincy in Queen’s University, Belfast.
The retreat was truly a blessing for us and we have great memories of the time spent with the students and chaplaincy team. We received a very warm welcome and that welcome sustained us each day as we gathered to pray, to celebrate the sacraments, and to share fellowship with the students.
The life of a friar is a life of mission, being on the road. We are invited to accompany people on their journey and walk with them as our brothers and sisters; sharing the joy and the hope of the Gospel with others, in whatever circumstances we meet them. This going out to others is in our DNA as a religious order.
Our founder, St. Francis understood the call of the friar minor to be one of itinerancy and mission. From our earliest days the friars were sent out to preach the Gospel and to witness to fraternity, and still today we embrace that way of life.
We thank God for our days in Belfast and we continue to pray for those friendly, faithful students and for the chaplaincy team in Queen’s who made our time there so rewarding.
If you are interested in this way of life why not make contact to find out more:
Friar Liam Kelly OFM
Phone: 087 396 0262
Postal address: Franciscan Friary, Athlone, Co Westmeath.