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"Fire and Flood – the elements seem determined to mark major events surrounding the late Fr Paul Fahy, making sure that we remember them vividly.”
These were the words of Master of Ceremonies – and Project Manager - Dennis Mauer at the blessing and opening of the new Paul Fahy Catechetical Community Centre at St Clare of Assisi, Jeffreys Bay, on Sunday, August 5, 2018.
He was referring to the fact the great fires of June 2017 had almost prevented Fr Paul and other guests, including Bishop Zungu, from attending the celebration of Fr Paul’s Golden Jubilee, and the day before the opening of the Catechetical Centre, a cloudburst dumped 75mm of rain on Jeffreys Bay, causing a flood which threatened the church and the new centre.
IMG 8318The new Centre, a project much beloved by Fr Paul, and named in his memory, was blessed and officially opened by Fr Joe Slattery, Fr Paul’s successor as Priest in Charge of the Kouga Catholic Community, at a Mass which was concelebrated by Fr Matt Gormley OFM Cap.
The opening was attended by the late Fr Paul’s sister, Mrs Nora Flaherty, who unveiled the commemorative plaque, her son Eamon, his wife Ann, and their sons Peter and Evan, all from Ireland.
After the blessing and Mass, more than 120 parishioners and guests attended a gala luncheon inside the new Centre, which primarily consists of a hall and five classrooms. The luncheon, a three-course meal, was entirely catered by the ladies of the parish.
IMG 8525In her tribute to Fr Paul, chief fund-raiser Diana Alberts mentioned that he had always stressed that it was the function of this generation to plant the seeds of trees under which future generations of believers would find shade. This centre is one such tree. She said it had been his strong desire to ensure that the community and its children had a building that would benefit it now and for generations to come and “and we are very happy to fulfil this dream in his honour so that his legacy would be a constant reminder of his commitment to all of us and is a token of our gratitude for the years he spent ministering here”.
IMG 8515Ann Flaherty read a message from Fr Paul’s brother, Patrick Fahy, on behalf of the Fahy family, in which he thanked the Kouga Catholic Community for the recognition and appreciation given to their brother by the community.
The two Flaherty boys, Peter and Evan, entertained the audience with traditional Irish music played on the flute.
In her address, Parish Council Chairperson Cecile Heather thanked and paid tribute to all those who had been instrumental in the successful completion of the project, especially Diana Alberts, project manager Dennis Mauer, whose dedication and hard work ensured that the building came in according to spec and on budget, and architect Willem Mostert.
The new Catechetical Community Centre, or CCC as it is known in the parish, had its origins in the days when the present Church of St Clare of Assisi was itself a community hall which played host to many memorable Parish social and other functions and events. Following its conversion into a beautiful church and dedicated centre of worship, a need was felt in the community for somewhere that those fondly-remembered functions could once again be held.
The project was given impetus by the growing number of catechism-age children in the parish, who were being given instruction in various rooms and corners of the church. Teachers could not store teaching materials anywhere, nor could they leave teaching aids and other items in the “classrooms”.
IMG 8591After much deliberation, the project was launched in 2015, with the late Fr Paul Fahy enthusiastically seeking funds for the project far and wide, to add to the intensive fund-raising efforts within the parish driven by the tireless Diana Alberts. A plot adjoining the church in Jeffreys Bay belonging to the Diocese was sold, and the funds graciously made available for the project by Bishop Vincent Zungu OFM and the Diocese. Grants were received from the Loyola Foundation in the USA and from the Pontifical Mission Society in Rome to enable the parish to complete the project.
Fr Paul, using his well-known persuasive abilities, was able to raise additional funds from mysterious anonymous donors, “pennies from heaven”, as well as from his brothers and sisters and other extended family in Ireland, the USA and Australia. The Parish is eternally gratefully to the Fahy family for this assistance.
Plans were drawn up by Jeffreys Bay architect Willem Mostert – at no cost to the Parish – who also shepherded them through official channels for approval, and construction work for the first phase of the project commenced in April 2017. This phase, consisting of three classrooms, the kitchen, foyer and toilet facilities, was completed near the end of 2017, and there followed a short hiatus while the funds from the PMS were awaited. Construction of the second phase began earlier this year and by the official opening – a date which was dictated by the presence of the Flaherty family in South Africa – the project was 98% complete – all that remains to be done is the flooring and some minor finishing touches.
Fr Paul left the parish a financial bequest in his will, and these funds will be used for a fence to provide security for the St Clare of Assisi church complex.

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