Clergymen pulling a 'fast' one for Christmas!
Reverend Arthur Minion and Fr. Aodhán Marken will be supported by the current affairs presenter Miriam O'Callaghan during their four-day fast for charity which is taking place on the steps of St. Iberius Church from 6pm on Friday, December 20 to 6pm on Christmas Eve.
The broadcaster is due to arrive on Sunday at about 3 p.m. to lend her endorsement to the festive fast which was started by the late Canon Norman Ruddock back in 1991 and has raised hundreds of thousands of Euro for worthy causes in the intervening years.
'Miriam admires what we are doing and what it achieves', said Reverend Minion who has been involved in the event for the past eight years while parish administrator Fr. Aodhán joined him on fast duty four years ago.
This year, the beneficiaries will be the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Wexford Women's Refuge, Ozanam House, Wexford Hospice Homecare, the Hope Centre in Enniscorthy, It's Good To Talk and the Collective Sensory Group.
Down through the years, quite a number of people have given substantial amounts of money, upwards of €3,000 to €5,000, on an annual basis, and even though most of these benefactors have passed away, the overall amount raised hasn't significantly reduced, due to the generosity of people on the streets, according to Reverend Minion.
'I do remember one year a donation of €9,000 coming from one gentleman. We still have generous amounts coming in. Quite a number of people would give €200 or €300. You'd have people putting in a wad of notes and they would be very discreet about how they put it in the box. You wouldn't see them doing it'.
'We are very grateful for the support of an Garda Síochána and the presence of one of their CCTV cameras at St. Iberius Church'.
Reverend Minion and Fr. Marken will have their last meal before 6 p.m. on Friday and will not eat again until after 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
The only food they are allowed during the four days is one paper cup of soup (sponsored by Westgate Design restaurant) between 12.30 p.m. and 1 p.m. each day.
They are allowed to drink water and tea or coffee with no milk or sugar; hot water wit lemon, cloves and a small dip of honey (to balance sugar levels) and a small amount of Bovril (to maintain salt levels).
A memorial Christmas Tree of Lights has been erected outside at the front of St. Iberius Church, to allow people to remember loved ones who have passed away, with all donations going to the Christmas Fast Fund - it made up a little over €1,000 of the contributions last year.
Inside the church, a 28ft Christmas tree containing 3,000 festive decorations is a sight to behold.
Donated by Edmund Byrne of Bridgetown,it was taken down, transported and erected by Michael Padget, Irvin Rothwell, Callum Rothwell, Nigel Hamilton, Ian Prescott, Michael Lawal, Martin Pitman and the Rector in a major operation, before the lights were officially switched on at the start of a Christmas concert by the Loch Garman Band on Saturday night last.
'One of the things I admire about Wexford is the tradition going back many years of people going on a pilgrimage to visit all the cribs in the town', said Reverend Minion who has compiled a treasure hunt list of '20 things to find on the Christmas tree' for children visiting the church during the festive season.
The Christmas Fast will conclude with an ecumenical Carol Service on Christmas Eve at 4 p.m. with representatives of the recipient charities and civic representatives doing the nine readings and prayers of the service.
All choir singers attending are invited to go to the gallery to be divided into parts for the singing of carols.
Other clergy involved in the fast during the past 28 years include the late Reverend Tom Eastwood (non-stipendary priest), Fr. Jim Fegan and Reverend Maria Jannsson.