Tralee church given €100,000 donation anonymously

Priests at Church of St John the Baptist say gift an 'incredible' gesture

An anonymous female resident of Hong Kong, above, has gifted €100,000 to the Church of St John the Baptist in Tralee. Photograph: Getty

An anonymous female resident of Hong Kong, above, has gifted €100,000 to the Church of St John the Baptist in Tralee. Photograph: Getty

Wed, Apr 10, 2013, 19:04

A 19th century church building in Tralee has been gifted €100,000 from a woman who was led into prayer by the Church's Guardian angels in "an incredible" gesture

Priests in the Church of St John the Baptist Castle Street in the centre of the Kerry capital said the woman lives in Hong Kong and is not a Catholic and she wishes to remain anonymous .

They believe she was visiting a sick relative in hospital in Tralee in 2011 when she was led into prayer and her prayer was answered.

The Italian marble angels each holding a holy water font were installed in 1918 survived a modernisation programme in the 1990s. They stand at the end of the main aisl e the left angel smiles and the right angel has a down cast dour expression.

Parish Priest Fr Sean Hanafin said he has never met the donor but he has spoken to her by phone.

At first Fr Hanafin admitted he doubted it was genuine. He even refused to take a phone call after being told by a staff member that a woman left a message to say she intended to make the donation. "It's incredible... Even when the cheque arrived I wondered was it genuine," the priest said.

"She was taken with the Chruch and connected with God thorugh the Angels at the entrance . She was drawn into prayer," Fr Hanafin said. Churches give a profound sense of space and peace, he added.

The donation is for the church building and the parish is deciding what to do with it.The church buildings alone cost over €101,000 to maintain, and heat and light is €50,000 extra, accounts show.

St John's occupies a medieval site and is much loved in Tralee is renowned for its stained glass and art work - it includes Stations of the Cross paintings by Sean Keating and a fine organ restored to its original splendour.

The Great Sanctuary window by Michael O'Connor ( 1801-1867) is considered among the finest in western Europe.

A Gothic revival building it is one of three Catholic Churches in the town centre and another church in the town is also St John,s - the Church of Ireland St John The Evangelist Church in nearby Ashe Street.