St Mary Magdalene Parish in Donegall Pass has organised a range of events to celebrate its 175th anniversary.
Events will culminate in an anniversary service on Monday December 1 – 175 years to the day since the parish opened. The preacher will be the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy.
Celebration events include a Big Breakfast, an open day, a parish dinner marking the start of three days of mission with Bishop Ken Clarke, a youth talent show and a family service, again with Bishop Ken.
St Mary Magdalene was part of the former parish of Belfast, in past times called Shankill. It was designed to provide an asylum for ‘penitent females,’ with a chapel attached and was named the Ulster Magdalene Asylum and Episcopal Chapel. It was opened on December 1, 1839.
Built in basilica form with galleries and approached by steps, it had three apartments beneath as schoolrooms for boys, girls and infants. A fire broke out in December 1898 and the church had to be rebuilt using Scrabo stone. This new building was dedicated on October 20, 1900.
The church’s brass eagle lectern is regarded as one of the finest in Ulster. In 1979, thanks to the generosity of some parishioners, what was the church room became ‘The Chapel of the Holy Spirit.’
During the 1950s and early ‘60s, St Mary Magdalene was filled to capacity and was the social life of the local community. It was home of the 1st Irish Boys’ Brigade Company, which began in 1888.
In 2007 the Parish of St Mary Magdalene was grouped with St Aidan’s, Sandy Row.
The full schedule of events for the 175th anniversary celebrations is:
For further information visit the parish website at www.st-marymagdalene.org.uk .