Four-day fast raises €47,000
The annual four-day Christmas fast exceeded all expectations as the efforts of Rev Arthur Minion and Fr Aodhán Marken drew in over €47,000 for charity.
Despite initial predictions that the funds would be much lower this year, the people of Wexford demonstrated their willingness to give and helped the pair to surpass last year's figure of €45,200. The fast came to an end at a special Christmas Eve carol service in St Iberius Church.
This year marked the first time that Fr Marken took part in the annual event. In a special speech at the Christmas Eve service, he remarked on the sense of community and friendship that he witnessed over the four days.
'The sense of celebration was wonderful,' said Parish secretary Louise Evans. 'They were both thrilled will the result.'
Harsh weather conditions made the four-day fundraiser much more challenging for the pair, who began the fast on Sunday December 20. According to Ms Evans, they hugged and cried when it came to an end on Christmas Eve.
'They were broken men,' she said.
Although they traditionally receive food in Westgate after the fundraiser, Fr Marken also ensured to factor in a special Christmas treat.
'He told me that he bought a sirloin steak to eat after midnight mass,' laughed Louise.
During the service, representatives from each church in the parish made a reading, along with Chairman of Wexford County Council Cllr Ger Carthy and Minister Brendan Howlin. Twelve children were also invited up to ring the old bell to mark the start of the 12 days of Christmas.
This year the charities to benefit are the St Vincent de Paul, Ozanam House Mens Shelter, Wexford Womens Refuge, Wexford Hospice Homecare, Cancer Research and Midlands Flood Victims.
'When we were thinking of raising money for the flood victims, someone offered to give us a very sizeable donation towards them,' explained Rev Minion last week. 'So we decided to have them as one of our beneficiaries. Some people have been hit very hard by the recent floods.'
Rev Arthur Minion and Fr Aodhan Marken demonstrated their own generosity when stormy conditions forced an outdoor movie event to be cancelled on December 23. The doors of St Iberius Church were opened to children and their families so that the screening of Home Alone could still go ahead.
An open-air concert featuring the Dublin Gospel Choir and Brian Kennedy was also relocated to the Church.