St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul

The Conference Of St. Columba

On 7th August 1903 the foundation stone of the new parish church of St. Columba was blessed and laid by Cardinal Cullen. Now that the building of his church was underway Fr. John Byrne turned his attention to founding a conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The name chosen for the conference was that of St. Columba. On 26th December 1903 the first meeting was held in the vestry of the Chapel of Our Lady of Dolours on Botanic Avenue. The minutes of the first meeting read as follows:

Present were: Very Rev. John Byrne, P.P. spiritual Director
Bro. J.J. Gray, President in the chair
John Joseph O'Dowd, Acting Vice-President
James Halligan, Treasurer
Thomas Reynolds, Secretary

After the opening prayers and spiritual reading it was proposed and decided that meetings of the Conference be held on Wednesday evenings at 8 o'clock. It was decided that Mr. A. Ryan, Glasnevin be appointed purveyor temporarily to the conference. The tickets to be presented at the Garden House not Tolka House. A subscription of ten shillings from Mr. W. Power was handed to the Treasurer. Two cases transferred from St. Peter's Conference were dealt with by the Conference. Instructions were given to have a letter box with brass plate affixed to the door of the Parochial Hall for the conference. The Spiritual director kindly promised that he would have a box for contributions placed in the church. The secretary was requested to apply to The Particular Council of Dublin for a money grant towards starting the conference. The treasurer was requested to pay the annual subscription of £0.2.6. for the bulletin for the year 1904. After the secret bag collection the meeting concluded with the usual prayers. Secret bag collection £0.8.6.

The conference has had many homes. It met for years in St. Vincent's orphanage and when the orphanage was sold in 1973 it transferred to the Sacred Heart home. When the Sacred Heart home closed it moved to 74 Iona Road then to 85 Iona Road and presently meets every Tuesday evening in the Parochial annex. In July 1909 the minutes state that Fr. John Byrne was unable to be present owing to illness - he died in 1912. His place was taken by senior curate Rev. P.J. McGrath. It then became the custom that the senior curate automatically became the Spiritual director of the conference - there were then three curates in the parish.

Strange as it may seem there are pockets of poverty in the parish. To-day success is counted by possessions and the conference is often the last resort of people caught in the money trap of modern life. It is impossible to see a time when the conference of St. Columba will no longer be needed

The conference can only give what it receives and the people of Iona have always been very generous in their support. The first recorded effort of fund raising was an appeal at Christmas 1904 which raised £7. In 1907 the sum of £10 was collected and a bazaar held in the Rotunda in June 1907 realised £62 - the committee was chaired by Mrs Cotter of 42 Lower Drumcondra Road. At present there is a monthly church gate collection and an annual indoor church collection in December.

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