Friday 12 July 2024

Dwane the Rock Snake!

Hi everyone, we have a new resident in the grounds of Christ Church Celbridge - His name is Dwane and he is a rock snake - So far he just has a head - He wants you to help by giving him a body
You are invited to paint a rock with a positive message and add it to our rock snake. It's a lovely family project and a great way to occupy kids or grandchildren who are off school.
Any questions or issues accessing or transporting stones or paint please get in touch by replying to this message
X Lucy


Tuesday 2 July 2024

Straffan Parishioner leading trip to Zimbabwe with Christian Aid

Prayers and Best wishes to Dee Huddleston of Straffan who next Sunday shares in leading a Christian Aid Delegation to Zimbabwe where with supporters of Christian Aid they will visit with various churches and organisations working on the ground. Dee and her party are leaving Dublin Airport next Sunday lunchtime and travelling to Paris via Aer Lingus (Pray that the strike will not cause issues) and then onwards to Nairobi on an overnight flight with Kenya Airways and again onwards to Harare with Kenya Airways – They have a very busy itinerary including among others the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, projects including, Visiting Sustainable Agriculture Technology (SAT) - Strengthening Household Resilience and Incomes in Mwenezi through Promotion of Sesame (SHRIMPS), a housing project run by the Methodist Development and relief agency which provides houses for people affected by Cyclone Idai. CAZ & MEDRA and supports the most disadvantaged persons e.g the elderly, child headed house hold, people with disability. It is quite a lengthy visit with the party returning on the morning of  Tuesday 16th July into Dublin airport. Please pray for Dee and all who will travel with her and all those they encounter during their visit.


Friday 28 June 2024

United Service 11am Straffan - Sunday June 30th

Please Note! United Service of Holy Communion in Straffan on this Sunday 30th June at 11am - No services in Newcastle or Celbridge!


Saturday 22 June 2024



I wrote in the current CSNL News of the need to find new ways to make our WELCOME as a Church more explicit and obvious.  The discussion continued following an excellent presentation by Lucy Jones at last week’s Select Vestry Meeting for Celbridge & Straffan.

One very important concrete step was taken at the meeting in that the Select Vestry signed up as an ‘Open and Welcoming Congregation’ to LGBT+ people and their families. (see details at end of post ***)

It was further suggested that we set up a group to plan strategies and events in our parish that focus on welcoming new people into our church community.

One suggestion in particular was that we should try and have tea and coffee after our services most Sundays and that we provide services that meet the needs of the community in which we find ourselves – children’s church services and perhaps in future a service for those facing exams or indeed a vigil for peace in our world.

These are just a couple of ideas and if you have any others or would like to participate in this initiative please contact me at or 087-2328172 or any of the churchwardens or lay ministers in the parish. This initiative includes all three churches in the parish.

I look forward to hearing from you




Registering as an Open and Welcoming Congregation

It is suggested that congregations and clergy who wish to register with Changing Attitude Ireland as Open and Welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT+) people and their families should formally agree to do so at a select vestry meeting.

Parishes that register as Open and Welcoming agree to the following:

We promote trust and understanding amongst heterosexual and LGBT+ parishioners.

We seek to include LGBT+ people and their families at every level of parish life, welcoming not only their presence but all they have to offer.

We do not make the assumption that everyone is heterosexual, whether in conversation, preaching, or in the prayers of the church.

We are upfront in our welcome for LGBT+ people and same-sex couples.

We recognise committed same-sex unions at social events, in church services and other aspects of Church life.

We welcome clergy regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Parishes that register with CAI as Open and Welcoming Congregations will be listed as such on the website.


Monday 17 June 2024

CSNL NEWS June/July/August, 2024.


Issue 84 CSNL NEWS         June/July/August, 2024.

Parish Of Celbridge & Straffan with Newcastle-Lyons

Church of Ireland United Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough

By the parishioners - for the parishioners


From Our Rector - Dear Friends ..

A few weeks ago I preached about the Universal welcome we extend to those who wish to present their children for Baptism.  This was in the light of a very negative message that came from our General Synod when a motion which sought to guarantee that churches would not refuse Baptism on the basis of the marital status of the parents was defeated.  This led to a lot of confusion and hurt and I wish to state categorically that in this parish nobody will be turned away as long as I am Rector.  The same holds for the Holy Communion.  Baptism and Holy Communion were instituted by Jesus and it is not for us to get in the way.  Reflecting on this led me to wonder how many other people perhaps feel excluded and unwelcome in our churches whether on basis of sexuality, race, ethnicity, disability or any other issue.  I think that this is something we need to address proactively and in the months ahead I would welcome any input/criticism so that we can more fully reflect the welcoming love of God in our ministry and outreach.  The reality is in my experience is that all our churches are warm and welcoming but does the person outside the door know that?  Nobody should have to wonder will they be accepted or welcome if they enter one of our churches on any given Sunday.  Lets find new ways to make that welcome explicit and unmissable!


Yours                                                                                                               Stephen

Church Services

Sunday Newcastle 9 a.m*   Straffan 10.15 a.m.    Celbridge 11.30 a.m.

1st        Holy Communion  Service of Word       Holy Communion

2nd        Service of Word    Holy Communion     Service of Word

3rd        Holy Communion  Morning Prayer        Holy Communion

4th        Morning Prayer      Holy Communion    Morning Prayer

5th        30th June.  United Service.  11 a.m.  Straffan

*Services will continue in Newcastle at 10 a.m., on the 1st Sunday as a permanent change in the Sunday timetable.


On Going Events

Craft & Chat:  The Group continues each Tuesday afternoon at 2.30 p.m., in the Slip Hall and is open to all for crafting, chatting and refreshments.  The group will take a break for July and August and return in September.  All welcome!


Wednesday Night Prayers:  From 8p.m., to 9 p.m.  At the moment they are held in the home of Tony & Elizabeth Waldron in Newcastle.  If anybody would like details they can contact Rev. Stephen or Dee Huddleston.  Everyone is very welcome to come along or to let them know if there is something they would like them to pray about. 


Saturday Night Services.  The next service in Christ Church, Celbridge will be on 13th July at 7 p.m.  The service is generally quite informal and we would be delighted to see some new faces - also if you play a musical instrument feel free to bring it along.  The service is normally followed by refreshments and time for a chat after the service.


Parish Outing - Wednesday, 29th May To Russborough

Thanks to Esther Lougheed & Rebecca Taylor for organising the above.  Just under 20 enjoyed a guided tour of the house and later enjoyed afternoon tea and a good opportunity to socialise and thankfully the weather was dry! 



On Pentecost Sunday, May, 19th in Christ Church Cathedral, Marlena Quigley & Poppy Murphy were confirmed by Archbishop Michael Jackson.  Our Rector said it was a great pleasure to prepare them both for Confirmation and he wishes them both every blessing in their journey in life and faith.  We continue to remember them in prayer.


Straffan Sunday Services On Line

Remember if you cant get to church on Sunday, the service is live-streamed. and


Concerts In Christ Church, Celbridge

The concert on 17th May by the Washburn University Choir (Kansas) accompanied by St. Marys Parish Choir, Maynooth under Sarah Darlington was a free event organised by Celbridge/Maynooth based Celtic Horizon Tours.  The choirs blended beautifully and we wee treated to a great evening of Sacred and Secular music.  It was a great pleasure to welcome Frank McNamara back to Christ Church on 24th May and as previously his playing was absolutely beautiful and especially enjoyable were the pieces he played alongside world renowned violinist Deirdre Reddy.  Forthcoming concerts:-


Sat, 22nd June               John Spillane.

Sun. 14th July               St. Marys Brass & Reed Band, Maynooth.

Fri. 20th September       Culture Night with Comhaltas Ceoltoiri from

                                    Leixlip.  Free event.

Sat. 5th October .           Sean Keane.

Sat. 19th October           Leonard Cohen Tribute - John MacKenna.

Sat. 23rd November       Artist - to be confirmed.

Sat. 21st December        Christmas Concert - Artist to be confirmed.


All tickets are now up on Eventbrite and also available from Breda - 087-9630719.


Launch Of Handbook

A new handbook has been launched From Every Nation? A Handbook for a congregations journey from welcome to belonging.  The handbook is available to download for free at   This aims to equip churches with an understanding of diversity and inclusion and to support actions at the local church level to improve inclusion and work towards racial justice through faith.



Stanley Shaw died peacefully on 8th June at Naas Hospital.  Deepest sympathy to his wife Jenny, their sons Jonathan & Alan, his sister Kathleen and the extended family.  In accordance with Stanleys wishes the funeral was private.  Stanley was much loved in the parish and community and over a period of years had played a huge part in the life of Straffan Church.  May he rest in peace and rise in glory.


CSN-L Parish Summer Fair Round-Up By Lucy Jones

Saturday 11th May promised glorious sunshine and the Fair Team were up bright and early putting the finishing touches to the Slip Hall.  Decked out in balloons, bunting and art the first Parish Summer Fair in a long time was launched.  Back by popular demand was the Bottle Stall with Robert Moody running it like a natural showman.  The Craft Stall was a riot of colour and boasted an enviable crocheted fashion collection for dolls, stunning tea-cosies and baby wear.  We even had some woodcraft and hair ornaments.  All made by our talented parishioners.  A big thank you to Linda Daly who co-ordinated the stall and contributed her own handiworks.  Viven Bond & Tony Waldron ably managed the Book Stall, organising it into a wonderfully browser-friendly display.  The Curiosities needed two tables this year such was the generosity of our Parish and did a roaring trade.  Huge thanks to Claire Doble for being a trooper and running the stand all day. 


What can we say about the Cake Stall?  The skills displayed spoke for themselves in the swift sale of every cake and bun in the place.  Ladies, thank you so much for your contributions.  This Stall has become a bit of a legend!  Thank you to Esther Lougheed & Hazel Mercer for their sterling work in dealing with the delighted customers.  The Plant Stall was located outside due to the lovely weather and was literally 40 shades of green.  We have so many talented and generous gardeners in the Parish who took the time to pot up plants for sale, thank you.  Thank you also to Elizabeth Burbridge & Rebecca Taylor for looking after this stall, your expertise was invaluable. We had a new venture this year thanks to the ingenuity of James & Trish Pasley.  Hook-a-Duck fast became one of the most popular activities at the Fair.  It is sure to be a firm favourite for years to come.  The Dog Show proved to be small but beautiful!  Our contestants were enthusiastic and really appreciated the lovely garden to parade around.  Thank you very much to all the prize sponsors and to Tara Campbell for acting as our judge.  As always the Childrens Art Competition provided a beautiful backdrop for the Fair.  We are most grateful to the staff and pupils of Primrose Hill National School for sharing their talents with us.  We must mention our stalwart team of Tea Ladies, Dee Huddleston & Judith Gleeson.  They delivered service with a smile all day and kept everyone well refreshed.  As we all know a decent supply of tea and coffee is the backbone of any operation.   Ladies, we literally couldnt have done it without you!


A massive thank you to all our parishioners for donating and turning up on the day to support this parish fundraiser.  Wed also like to thank Rev. Stephen for his support and good humour throughout the planning and execution of the Fair.  Our Finance Team of Gordon Bass, Rev. Stephen & Tony Waldron were invaluable and as every year we are very grateful for the work they put in.  Thank you all once again, the Fair is a three-church project and really flourishes because we all work so well together as a team. The day was wonderful, and full of connection and laughter that the money raised felt almost like a side show.  We made just over 2,000.  Now that we have a target to beat well see you all again for the Parish Winter Fair 2024!  And from the parishioner a massive thank you to Lucy & June Galligan for organising it.


Thanks Dee Huddleston for taking the service in Straffan on 2nd June while our Rector was in Newcastle-Lyons.  Dee spoke on the work of Christian Aid on 5th May, in advance of Christian Aid week.  The service on RTE1 on Sunday 12th May was led by Rosamond Bennett, CEO of Christian Aid, and Dee took part in the service.  This year the focus was on Burundi and featured Aline Nibogora, 35, who had the first of her 6 children at 14, whose husband was violent and beat her regularly and was forced to leave her children.  She found out about a 3 day workshop where Christian Aid funded trainers taught people about village savings and loans associations.  With this sense of hope and energy, she began trading avocados and peanuts and with profits bought a bicycle to transport greater quantities.  She has since been reunited with 3 of her sons and lives on a plot of land and plans to expand her business and building a home for her family in the hope that one day she can have all her children with her.  Aline has said that the support of Christian Aid has made the whole community feel comforted and empowered. 


Thanks to all who maintain the church grounds now that the mowing season is in full swing and for the Car Boot Market.


Newcastle 300

This year St. Finians Church, Newcastle-Lyons celebrates 300 years since it was reconstructed in its present format and about 800 years since the first stone was laid on the site.  In recent weeks parishioners have been working hard to show the church grounds at their best and in the process have uncovered some interesting details on the vaults and graves long covered by ivy.  As part of the celebrations a Fair Day is planned for Saturday, 31st August and a Celebration service on the afternoon of Sunday, 1st September at which the preacher will be an old friend of the parish, Canon Leonard Ruddock.


 Straffan Market & Carboot Sale

The 14th Season of the Straffan Market & Carboot Sale event started on 4th May, with 3 further events since.  Thanks to all who have helped on the days, baked and bought!  The remaining dates are:

29th June          13th July           27th July           10th August

24th August      7th September   21st September  5th October

The gates open from 8.45 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.  If you are interested in booking a stall, WhatsApp your name and what you sell to Mobile 089-2797200.  Calls can not be answered.  Pre-BOOKING is required.  Fee is 15, paid at the gate.  Car + Small trailer is 20.  Please use the exact amount.  This year we are opening a dedicated CRAFT only section.  This will provide for home grown and home made produce, Hobby Crafts, Antiques, Books & Music (CDs, Vinyls).  No mix with Bric-a-Brac can be used.  When applying for a CRAFT Stall, please WhatsApp your full name + type of CRAFT.



Congratulations to Zoe Olivia Thompson, daughter of Aoife & Alan  Thompson who was baptised in Christ Church, Celbridge on Sunday, 2nd June.  Her Godparents are Jillian & Bryan Adams.  We wish Zoe Olivia every blessing on her journey in life and faith.


Primrose Hill National School

Another year over and we wish all the staff and pupils and their families a refreshing and relaxing summer.  The closing service will take place on Friday, 21st June at 11.30 a.m., in Christ Church, Celbridge.  Our thoughts are also with those who have completed state and other examinations as they await the results.


Calendar Of Events


Sun      16        Fathers Day.

Fri        21        End of Year Service.  11.30 a.m. Christ Church.

Sat       22        Concert.  Christ Church, Celbridge.  8 p.m.

Sat       29        Car Boot Market.  Straffan.  8.45 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.

Sun      30        United  Service.  Straffan Church.  11 a.m.


Sat       13        Car Boot Market.  Straffan.  8.45 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.

                        Service.  Christ Church, Celbridge.  7 p.m.

Sun      14        Concert.  Christ Church, Celbridge.  8 p.m.

Sat       27        Car Boot Market.  Straffan.  8.45 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.


Sat       10        Car Boot Market.  Straffan.  8.45 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.

Sat       24        Car Boot Market.  Straffan.  8.45 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.

Sat       31        Fair Day.  St. Finians Church, Newcastle-Lyons.


Sun      1         800 Celebration Service.  St. Finian Church.

Mon     2         Closing date for next issue of CSNL NEWS.

Sat         7         Car Boot Market.  Straffan.  8.45 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.

Sun      8         CSNL NEWS distributed in 3 churches.

Fri        20        Concert.  Christ Church, Celbridge.  8 p.m.

Sat       21        Car Boot Market.  Straffan.  8.45 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.


WhatsApp Groups

WhatsApp group continues to be very active.  There are also groups specifically for Newcastle and another for Straffan notices together they provide a very effective means of contact in the parish.



Team Hope Christmas Shoebox Appeal.  Shoebox Checking Volunteers Needed this November.  Contact or 01-2940222.   The United Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough have a vacancy for a full time Accounts & Administrative Assistant - contact Ian Walshe -


Chuckle Time

Sunday School teacher:  Do you say your prayers every night, Sammy?  Sammy: Oh no!  Some nights I dont want anything.


Whos Who In The Parish

Rector:  Rev. Stephen Neill     01-6288231                  087-2328172


            Keep up to date on & &



Anxiety weighs down a heart, but a kind word cheers it up.  Proverbs. 12:25.

Sunday 26 May 2024

Trinity Sunday Sermon in response to the shameful defeat of the motion on Open Baptism at our recent General Synod



Sermon for Trinity Sunday 2024

Trinity Sunday – It’s a funny sort of feast – It doesn’t celebrate any particular event in our faith story – It’s a celebration of a theological doctrine and immediately that makes a lot of people want to switch off!

It is however a very important doctrine – the heart of our faith  - which is implied throughout the biblical narrative and is intrinsic to our understanding of God and our relationship with God and indeed the whole of Creation.

I was looking for a fresh angle on the Trinity for my sermon today and I did a bit of reading of some commentaries on the theme and came across this from a contemporary theologian, Gerald Darring – The theology he articulates is completely orthodox but the way in which he presents it provoked a sort of lightbulb moment for me. This quotation is quite lengthy but I think quite helpful:
‘There is absolute individuality within the Trinity, for we believe that the Father is neither the Son nor the Spirit, nor is the Son the Father or the Spirit, nor is the Spirit the Father or the Son. Each person is distinct from the other two; none loses his personhood within the Trinity.
There is absolute equality within the Trinity. No person has something that the others lack, for each is God and each is all being. None is more God; all are absolutely equal.
There is absolute unity within the Trinity. God is one; the three persons are one. Father, Son and Spirit are three distinct persons, but they are persons in one God.
Ours is a Trinitarian religion. The Trinity is the source of our faith as well as the goal of our lives. We long to live for all eternity the life of the Trinity. Meanwhile, the Trinity is for us the model towards which we strive as a community: free individuals with total equality in complete unity.’

That last paragraph really hit home for me:

It hit home because I suddenly realised it addresses head on an issue which has caused huge hurt and damage within our own Church of Ireland and beyond in recent weeks. I’m referring to the defeated motion brought to General Synod which sought to encourage clergy not to refuse baptism to children based on the marital status of their parents. The motion was passed by the laity but narrowly defeated by the clergy, some of whom, for whatever reason seemed to want to be the gatekeepers to the sacrament of Baptism.

Lets look again at the last line of Gerald Darring’s commentary on the Trinity.

The Trinity is the source of our faith as well as the goal of our lives. …….the Trinity is for us the model towards which we strive as a community: free individuals with total equality in complete unity.’

How does that square with what happened at General Synod? It doesn’t I would suggest! The latter says we are a church with walls and barriers to keep out certain people – a church not of equality but one which likes to put people into categories of exclusion – a church which does not seek Unity but division – withdrawing itself onto an island of purity and rigorous and unforgiving rules which take away all freedom. It is a vision of Hell!

The Trinity on the other hand is a vision of Divine relationship which draws us in and welcomes us – What happened at Synod was the antithesis of this and flies in the face of who and what we are called to be.

I am not one for quoting huge tracts of Scripture out of context but I do make an exception for the words of Jesus which have a way of cutting across and through our prejudices and our hangups (and I think that is what was at play at Synod – some people far too wrapped up in their own theological systems and hangups that they could not see the fundamental principle at stake.)

These words of Jesus from Matthew 18: 1-5 are I think particularly relevant and instructive:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

I would defy anybody to interpret those words of Jesus in a way that could possibly justify turning away a child presented for baptism by its parent or parents regardless of their marital arrangements, their sex or sexuality or any other defining characteristic of their personhood.

If we are truly to reflect the vision of the Trinity in our church and in our lives then rather than creating a theological obstacle course for those who are seeking we should be the kind of community that reflects and extends the divine embrace and welcome to all who show up. We need to get over ourselves and realise its not about us but about a God who seeks to draw all people to himself and it is not for us to get in the way.

Infact the very next verse following those words of Jesus I just quoted from Matthew 18 says this – again the words of Jesus:

‘'If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.’

Strong stuff – I think the message essentially is – Get out of the way and let God be God!

God doesn’t need gatekeepers – The Church doesn’t need gatekeepers – I don’t know if you have noticed but people aren’t exactly knocking down the door to get in to our churches these days…….perhaps because we are perceived to be exclusive and inward looking – I know that’s not true in this parish or this church but can we continue to assume that those outside the doors don’t think differently. The public commentary following the General Synod made it quite clear that a lot of people had their opinions and prejudices confirmed. There is a lot of cynicism out there and its hard to say it isn’t justified! We cannot deny that the majority of clergy want to be gatekeepers and some laity as well – We have a problem and if we don’t address it our church will not be here in another generation.

I think this is a wake up call for us – Somehow we have to leave people in no doubt as to who we are and what we stand for because no matter what and who we think we are perception is reality. People have to know they are Welcome – No strings attached!

Some years ago at a vestry meeting we discussed  joining the Changing Attitude list of Open and Welcoming Churches in Ireland to LGBT+ people - Many of the parishes in this diocese (including some of our neighbours) are signed up to it but without consensus we didn’t pursue it further – I no longer believe it is a option – Yes I know that people of diverse sexuality are welcome in our churches but do those who might be outside the door and wondering will they be welcome know? Why can’t we make it easier for them? Why force them to guess or to make themselves more vulnerable by taking a risk? Why not be unambiguous and get out of the way of a God who doesn’t want or need gatekeepers. Sometimes by our inaction we make great gatekeepers!

That is just one example – Others spring to mind. Obviously the current issue of open Baptism is something that we need to make explicit.

We have an annual pet service in our parish and there is one four legged regular attender all year around but do we need to say more publicly that we are pet friendly all year around…. Its not just pets but support dogs – I wonder is there somebody who would like to be a part of this community of faith but is not sure if their pet or companion dog is welcome…..

I could probably go on but that’s probably enough to consider for one day. I never thought a consideration of the Trinity would lead me down this road but I do really feel there is an urgency for us as a church if we wish to thrive and continue to live the vision of the Trinity as a welcoming and open community of faith to be much more explicit about what we stand for and indeed what we do not wish to see said and done in our name.













Monday 20 May 2024

Confirmation 2024

Some pics from yesterday's Confirmation in Christ Church Cathedral - Congratulations to Marlena Quigley and Poppy Murphy from our parish - It was a great pleasure to prepare them both for Confirmation and I wish them both every blessing in their journey in life and faith - Rev Stephen
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