Sacrament of Baptism

“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.” ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church §1213


Baptisms take place in St Malachy’s Church, Ballymoyer on the 1st Saturday of the month at 6.00pm.

How to book?

Bookings for the Sacrament of Baptism can be done online by using our booking form here

What next?

Our Baptism Team want to help you plan and prepare for the baptism of your child in the best possible way, by helping the family become familiar with the ceremony; to explain the role of Godparents and the practicalities of the day. It is necessary for Parents and Godparents to attend a pre-baptismal meeting in Parish Pastoral Room, 25 Priestbush Road, Whitecross on the Tuesday evening before the ceremony from 7.00pm-7.30pm.


Guidelines for choosing godparents

There may be one or two godparents (sponsors). When there are two sponsors, one must be male (godfather) and the other female (godmother). At least one sponsor must be Catholic. Godparents must be:

  • at least sixteen years old
  • baptised, confirmed and have received the Eucharist
  • living an upright life
  • someone other than either parent

A baptised non-Catholic, although he/she may not be a sponsor, can be a ‘Christian Witness’ for the child as long as there is at least one other Catholic sponsor.

Sacrament of Reconciliation


Each Saturday Evening before Mass (6.30pm – 6.55pm) in St Malachy’s OR St Brigid’s (Mass Alternates weekly) Check Calendar
Before Mass on the 1st Friday of the month (6.30pm – 6.55pm) in St Malachy’s Church, Ballymoyer

Extra times for Confession are made available in the immediate weeks before Christmas and Easter every year. Details will be made available on the website and in the parish bulletin.

Anyone is invited to approach/contact a priest at any time if they wish to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Reconciliation Services

Penitential Services during the seasons of Advent and Lent, in preparation for Christmas and Easter, are organised by the parish every year. Dates and times will be published on the website and in the parish bulletin.

Examination of Conscience

Click here for an excellent guide to prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

First Confessions

Dates for the celebration of First Confession for each school will be communicated to Parent/Guardians via the Childs school.

(Parents are encouraged to attend their child’s First Confession.)

Holy Communion

The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord’s own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist

At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.’

The inexhaustible richness of this sacrament is expressed in the different names we give it. Each name evokes certain aspects of it. It is called: Eucharist, The Lord’s Supper, The Breaking of Bread, The Holy Sacrifice, The Holy and Divine Liturgy, Holy Communion, Holy Mass.” ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church §1322-1332


Dates for the celebration of First Holy Communion for each school can be found in our Events Calendar.


Preparation for First Holy Communion is usually done through the schools in conjunction with teachers, parents and the school chaplains.
The Parish also participates in “the Bridge” program, which allows First Holy Communicants and their Parents to participate in Sunday Mass over a period of months prior to the child receiving their First Holy Communion.


“Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the ‘sacraments of Christian initiation’, whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For‘by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.” ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church §1285


The next Sacrament of Confirmation will take place in St Malachy’s Church on Friday 27th March at 5.00pm

Sacramental Preparation

Preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation is usually done through the schools in conjunction with teachers, parents and the school chaplains.


“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” ~ CCC §1601

We congratulate you on your commitment to become Husband and Wife.

We hope the following information will be of some assistance to you.

Diocesan Requirements!

The Irish Episcopal Conference has recently decided that only those over the age of 18 may celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage in the dioceses of Ireland.

A pre-marriage course is expected to be completed by all couples in the Archdiocese of Armagh.
Courses may be booked by contacting ACCORD directly at:
We recommend that you book this course as soon as possible, as places fill up quickly and the marriage preparation cannot take place until the course has been completed.

How to book?

Bookings for the Sacrament of Marriage can be done by using our online booking system here.

Note that marriages are not celebrated on a Sunday or Holy Days of obligation.

Suggested timeframe after booking your wedding.

Approximately 6 Months before your wedding.

1. Request a copy of your Birth, Confirmation and Freedom to Marry certificate from the Parish in which you were baptised.  (This will not be required if you were baptised in Loughgilly Parish.)

2. Contact your local council office to obtain a marriage licence.

3. Contact the Parish Priest of the Parish in which you have lived for the past 6 months to arrange a meeting to complete a Pre-Nuptial Enquiry form.

4. Arrange to meet with the Priest celebrating your wedding.  The Celebrant will sign your marriage licence and complete final paperwork

Approximately 1 Month before your wedding.

Contact your Celebrant to arrange a suitable wedding practice time.
(If the Celebrant is a visiting Priest then please also contact the Loughgilly Parish Office to confirm the availability of the Church for the practice.)

Email your celebrant a copy of your Marriage Booklet including your Hymns.

Your Celebrant will review the booklet BEFORE YOU PRINT IT.

(Please note only Hymns should be sung during the Ceremony no secular song, music or instrumental is permitted.)

 Baptismal / Confirmation Certificate and Letter of Freedom

Couples who require a Baptismal and Confirmation Certificate from the parish, as well as a Letter of Freedom to Marry, can contact the Parish Office.

Holy Orders

“Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.
The divinely instituted ecclesiastical ministry is exercised in different degrees by those who even from ancient times have been called bishops, priests, and deacons. Catholic doctrine, expressed in the liturgy, the Magisterium, and the constant practice of the Church, recognizes that there are two degrees of ministerial participation in the priesthood of Christ: the episcopacy and the presbyterate . the diaconate is intended to help and serve them. For this reason the term sacerdos in current usage denotes bishops and priests but not deacons. Yet Catholic doctrine teaches that the degrees of priestly participation (episcopate and presbyterate) and the degree of service (diaconate) are all three conferred by a sacramental act called “ordination,” that is, by the sacrament of Holy Orders. ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church §1536.1554

Diocesan Priesthood

A diocesan priest can also be described as a parish priest, or one who works within and serves a particular parish within a diocese. Diocesan priests are very active people, with friends, hobbies and recreational activities, just like anybody else. It’s said that a diocesan priest is ‘someone who lives with the people and each becomes a part of the other’s life’. The role of a diocesan priest is to:

  • Serve the individuals and families within his parish.
  • Be the spiritual leader of that community.
  • Some diocesan priests serve the diocese in schools, as teachers or chaplains, in hospitals or in prisons.


A diocesan priest commits himself to a celibate life and to obedience to the bishop. Both celibacy and obedience are rooted in of Christ who offered Himself in loving service of the Father. Celibacy calls for a spirit of selflessness and is a sign of the ultimate call to union with God. Obedience fosters a willing surrender to the will of God in all circumstances.

More Than a Job

Deciding on a priestly vocation is, in one sense, a career choice like any other. Skills and attributes include:

  • Strong interpersonal abilities
  • Leadership
  • Charity towards others
  • Positive self-image
  • Good health
  • Emotional stability

But being a priest is more than a job – it’s a way of life, requiring strong personal and professional commitment that is reflected in all that you do – all that you are. A commitment to a daily life of personal prayer is at the heart of what it means to be a priest. There are many benefits and rewards in the priesthood. The opportunity to serve God and bring hope, joy and healing into the lives of many people brings with it a deep happiness and a sense of peace.

A Special Role

The Eucharist is the centre of a priest’s life and ministry. In addition to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, a diocesan priest is ordained to:

  • Offer pastoral service.
  • Proclaim God’s word.
  • Minister the Sacraments (the visible signs of God’s presence in the Christian community), e.g. celebrate baptism, witness marriages, bring comfort at funerals, and bring God’s healing presence to people through the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) and the Sacrament of the Sick.
  • Diocesan priests set aside some time each day for personal reflection and private prayer.
  • Visits to the sick and troubled, working on various parish projects and activities, and counseling for individuals, married couples or families are also part of his role.

Check out the Armagh diocesan website: or Vocations Ireland for those discerning a call to the Priesthood or Religious Life.


If you think you may be called to the priesthood, please get in touch with Fr Murphy, or the diocesan priestly vocations director, Fr Barry Matthews (details below) for further information.

Permanent Diaconate

A Brief History and Explanation of the Permanent Diaconate

The apostles in Jerusalem, finding it difficult to combine the distribution of food to the poor with preaching the word and prayer, appointed seven ministers to serve those in who were in need (cf Acts 6:1-7), charity being considered as central to the ministry of the Church. The apostles handed over this duty to ‘men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom’ by praying and laying hands on them. Among these was Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Saint Paul, writing about 57 AD, includes deacons in his greeting in Philippians (1:1) and writing to Timothy lists the qualities and virtues which all deacons are expected to possess and exercise in their ministry (I Tim 3:8-13), indicating that the diaconate had already become a separate office in the Church. The very term ‘diakonia’ describes the central characteristic of this order: the deacon is called to service. The witness of the early Fathers of the Church acknowledges the importance of the diaconal ministry. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, about 100 AD, says that it would be impossible to have the Church without bishops, priests and deacons. He explains that their task was nothing less than to continue ‘the ministry of Jesus Christ’.

After the fifth century, however, there was a decline in the permanent diaconate in the Latin Church. From the early Middle Ages the diaconate remained only as a transitionalorder that men received as part of their preparation for the priesthood. There were occasional exceptions to this rule however, Saint Francis of Assisi, for example, was ordained a deacon but not a priest. But the reality was that the permanent character of this order was abandoned by the Latin Church for many centuries.

During the Second Vatican Council the permanent character of the order was restored and renewed when the Council in October 1963 called for the reestablishment of the ministry of the permanent deacon. In June 1967, Pope Paul VI carried out the desire of the Council when he published the Apostolic Letter Sacrum diaconatus ordinem in which he reestablished the permanent diaconate in the Latin Church. The Council, in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, echoes the ancient image and concerns of the New Testament when it speaks of the ministry and nature of the diaconate:

“At a lower level of the hierarchy are deacons, upon whom hands are imposed “not unto the priesthood, but unto a ministry of service”. For strengthened by sacramental grace, in communion with the bishop and his group of priests they serve in the diaconate of the liturgy, of the word, and of charity to the people of God. It is the duty of the deacon, according as it shall have been assigned to him by competent authority, to administer baptism solemnly, to be custodian and dispenser of the Eucharist, to assist at and bless marriages in the name of the Church, to bring Viaticum to the dying, to read the Sacred Scripture to the faithful, to instruct and exhort the people, to preside over the worship and prayer of the faithful, to administer sacramentals, to officiate at funeral and burial services. Dedicated to duties of charity and of administration, let deacons be mindful of the admonition of Blessed Polycarp: ‘Be merciful, diligent, walking according to the truth of the Lord, who became the servant of all.'” ~ Lumen Gentium §29

Permanent Diaconate in the Archdiocese of Armagh

For the first time in centuries the Archdiocese of Armagh has begun to accept and ordain men to the permanent diaconate. On 29th September, 2013 five men from across the diocese were ordained in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. Many more are currently in formation for service as deacons in the archdiocese.

If you think you may be called to the permanent diaconate, please get in touch with one of the priests of the parish or the diocesan permanent diaconate director, Fr Brian White (details below) for further information.

Is God Calling You to Holy Orders?

Here are some practical suggestions to help someone who is thinking about a vocation to Holy Orders:

  1. Daily Mass – One who is discerning a call to Holy Orders is encouraged to participate in the daily celebration of Mass so that he can grow in his relationship with the Lord.
  2. Sacrament of Penance – The celebration of the Sacrament of Penance is the way in which a man attempts to live a holy life – through the frequent confession of sins and by the Grace of God.
  3. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – This is a powerful way to grow in love with the Eucharistic Lord and grow in the spiritual life.
  4. Daily Prayer – This is time to set aside for God alone, usually in a quiet place at a specific time each day. This prayer time might consist of talking to the Lord in one’s own words or praying the sacred scriptures, especially the Gospels. Developing a daily habit and pattern of prayer will help the young man to hear more clearly the call of the Lord.
  5. Spiritual Direction – Speaking with a priest of the parish or a qualified individual trained in direction about one’s prayer life and seeking advice from this person on a regular basis is very helpful as one discerns a vocation to Holy Orders.
  6. Discernment Programs – Attending a retreat, a diocesan vocation evening or joining a discussion group of other young men discerning a vocation are invaluable in helping one to come to greater clarity about God’s call to priesthood or diaconate.
  7. Devotion to the Blessed Mother – Praying the rosary daily and seeking the powerful intercession of the Blessed Mother is especially recommended in the discernment process.
  8. Get Involved in some form of service with the Church. For example, outreach to the poor, teaching religious education, lecturing at Mass, taking Holy Communion to the sick, working with the young of a parish, etc. are ways to give one a taste of “ministry” and may also increase one’s desire for ministry and service.
  9. Talk to a Vocation Director – in order to obtain further information about seminary and priestly life. The vocation director may also help through regular meetings so as to help in discerning with the young man the authenticity of the call.

    Priestly Vocations Director

    Fr Barry Matthews CC
    42 Abbey Street
    Armagh, BT61 7DZ
    Tel: (028) 3752 2802

    Permanent Diaconate Director

    Fr Brian White,
    Parochial House,
    6 Circular Road
    Co Tyron BT71 6BE
    Tel 02887 722631.

Prayer for Vocations

O Jesus, send labourers into your fields, which are awaiting holy apostles,

saintly priests, heroic missionaries and dedicated sisters and brothers.

Enkindle in the hearts of men and women the spark of a vocation.

Grant that Christian families may desire to give to your church,

helpers in the work of tomorrow. Amen.

Anointing of the Sick

“By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. and indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.” ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church §1499

A priest can be contacted at any time (day or night) for the Anointing of the Sick and Viaticum by calling 02837 507214

A special communal celebration of the Anointing of the Sick is usually organised on/around the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (11 February). Dates and times will be published on the website and in parish bulletin.

First Friday Visits

Each First Friday of the month, Fr Murphy brings the Blessed Sacrament to the sick and housebound, Fr Murphy is also available for Confessions and the Anointing of the Sick. If you would like to be added to this list, or know of anyone who would, please contact Fr Murphy, or the parish office.