£250,000! West Belfast parishes raise massive sum in Trócaire Tsunami church appeal

Parishes throughout West Belfast raised a massive quarter of a million pounds for the Trócaire Asian Disaster Appeal, the Andersonstown News can reveal.

While congregations the length and breadth of Ireland came together to show their generous spirit and humanity two weeks ago, it’s only now that the actual amount collected has come to light. And as the Andersonstown News this week contacted the 15 West Belfast churches it’s become clear that parishioners showed their generous spirit by digging deep as the full scale of the tsunami horror emerged.

While some churches had not finalised their totals, the sums already counted show that West Belfast raised over £250,000 during the January 9 collection. St Michael the Archangel on Finaghy Road North collected in excess of £41,000 – donated by generous parishioners and the bulk of which came from Masses held over the weekend of 8/9 January. St Michael's Parish Priest, Fr Colm McGrady, is delighted with the generosity of his parishioners.

“The collection surpassed all expectations as the parishioners once again displayed their generosity to people in dire need,” he said. “This is not a unique act of giving, in the past 12 months the people of the parish responded to the Sudan appeal with gifts of over £12,000 as well as over £11,000 to the Trócaire Lenten campaign of 2004."

Fr Matt Wallace of Holy Trinity, which raised £29,000, is equally elated by that figure.

"We raised an amount that was beyond all expectations, it was absolutely exceptional," he told the Andersonstown News.

However, even the smaller parishes with relatively smaller congregations raised large sums.

A spokesman for the Church of the Nativity said he was overwhelmed by the “extraordinary generosity and the phenomenal sense of compassion and solidarity shown by such a young congregation” who raised £7,500 with money still coming in.

St Luke's parish have raised £10,000 to date but, according to a parish spokesman: "We still have to convert money that was donated in euros and the gift aid contributions which could amount to another few thousand pounds."

Many other parishes were unable to give an exact figure due to the amount of money still rolling in for the appeal but the total sum of the figures given took the West Belfast effort from local parishes over the £250,000 mark.
Caoimhe Bailey, press officer for Trócaire, told the Andersonstown News of her gratitude to the people of West Belfast.

“It's an absolutely phenomenal amount to raise in such a short space of time.
“We really are grateful for the generosity shown and are assuring everyone that the money will be put to the best use possible.”

Trócaire is working in the disaster-stricken area as part of an umbrella group of Catholic groups operating under the Caritas network.

Donations are still being collected at most parishes and anyone wishing to give should contact their parish office or drop into the sacristy after Mass.

After the efforts of the last three weeks Troócaire is starting to wind down its special fundraising appeal for tsunami victims to focus on its annual Lenten campaign to raise aid in Africa.

Three million pounds was raised in the recent national church collections in the North, while throughout Ireland Trócaire has raised over £13 million for their tsunami appeal through various collections.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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