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One hundred and fifty years ago on Sunday past, 7 March, the first Dominicans arrived in the then town of Newry.

Unfortunately during to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event couldn't be celebrated as much as it warrented but it was marked at the regular Sunday Masses in St Catherine's Dominican in Dominic Street, albeit online, and local historian Anthony Russell has published an in-depth article on the community.

A candle gifted by the Benedictine community in Rostrevor was lit to celebrate the landmark date. The present Prior of the congregation is Fr David Tohill. 

St Catherine's Dominican Church, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
St Catherine's Dominican Church, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Explaining the anniversary Fr Joseph Ralph at the 12.30pm Mass on Sunday said "It was on the 7th of March 1871 that the first community of Dominicans, a community of five arrived here in Newry at the invitation of Bishop Pius Leahy who was also a Dominican. For a short time the Dominican Brothers lived in a house in Hyde Market now known as St Colman's Park before moving to a house in Chapel Street where they looked after St Mary's Chapel, known as the Old Chapel and the Dominicans were there until 1875. It was in 1875 then that they moved here to Ballybot and this church dedicated then to St Catherine and the Sacred Heart. Dominican's have been here ever since."

The former Hyde Market now St Colman's Park where the Dominicans first lived when they arrived in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
The former Hyde Market now St Colman's Park where the Dominicans first lived when they arrived in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Concluding Fr Ralph added "It's an important day for us to give thanks, to give thanks to you the people of Newry for the welcome, for the acceptance, for the support and the encouragement that you've given to our Dominican community down through the years."

Fr Cesare Decio  added "It's an extremely important moment for each one of us, an extremely important moment for our congregation. It's an extremely important moment for all the people who like the Dominican community all over the world.

You can read Anthony Russell's article here NEWRYDOMINICAN.COM


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