FORMER Parish Priest at Moyraverty, Father Martin McAlinden, returned to the borough recently to welcome an old friend back to Craigavon.
Father Garvin Grech, a Maltese Priest working in Bolivia, was given a warm welcome by Father McAlinden, who recently left St Anthony’s to take up a position in Dromore.
The ‘MAIL’ caught up with both priests as they availed of the hospitality of the McCann family from Craigavon.
Fr Garvin from Malta and Fr McAlinden studied together in Chicago 12 years ago and they’ve kept in touch ever since.
The Maltese Priest has been in Tarija in Bolivia for the past 12 years while Fr Martin spent eight years as Moyraverty Parish Priest.
Fr Garvin, who was visiting Craigavon, said: “I’m part of the Canaanites who have been serving Bolivia for the past 60 years.
“The first time I came to Moyraverty was when Martin was installed as PP. Around that time we started a relationship between the parish in Craigavon and the parish in Bolivia.”
Fr McAlinden commented: “When Fr Garvin came here I never told people to give him money. It was spontaneous.”
Over the years the parishioners at Moyraverty have contributed thousands of US dollars to Fr Garvin’s parish. Most recently a cheque for 4,485 US dollars was handed over to Fr Garvin from Friends of St Anthony’s Church and School.
Fr Garvin said: “The money has helped to renovate a school, a convent and a soup kitchen and we are now trying to change our projects.
“We want to start up after-school classes for people who have problems. There are no social services in Bolivia, it is up to the church to try and provide, not only spiritually, but basic services like schools and health.”
He added: “To make 500 dollars in Bolivia you need to work three to four months.
“People in Craigavon are very generous. I would like to give a big, big heartfelt thank you for all the generous people living in the area.”
Fr McAlinden, who is now in Dromore and is Co-ordinator of Adult Faith in the Diocese, recalled his eight years as Parish Priest of Moyraverty.
He said: “I loved Craigavon and have great memories of the place. I had a baptism of fire, literally when I arrived here there was a fire at Lylo.
“It was great to be part of a community that was so alive. It was while I was here I got involved in running so I have fond memories of running around the Lakes.
“The other thing that was great about here was the relationship with other denominations. Moyraverty was a real parish of diversity and people working together.”