Third time lucky?

By Claire Smith

IT seems third time lucky for Father Christopher Nellis who has returned to North Antrim yet again

The new parish priest of Armoy, Fr. Nellis has already spent time in Rathlin Island and Loughgiel Parishes and is now looking forward to coming ‘home’.

Speaking to the Times Fr Nellis, originally from Belfast highlighted his many Irish post including joining the monks at 18-years-old.

“It really is like coming home. I have a long history of movement right across Ireland however it’s always nice to return to somewhere that is familiar,” he said.

“I began my studies at St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny from 1976 to 1982, however my very first appointment was to Rathlin Island.

“Sending newly ordained priests there was a common occurrence - I’m not sure why. I have very fond memories of my time at Rathlin, it was an experience which will always be with me.

“I then moved to County Down to Ardkeen, Kircubbin from 1983 to 1986 before four years at St Joseph’s, Antrim.

“It was then a case of packing my bags again and back to North Antrim where I served as curate in Loughgiel parish in Magherahoney for five years.

“I next moved on to Downpatrick Parish for five years, then Whitehouse, St Mary’s Star of the Sea in Belfast before my last post curating in the Sacred Heart in Belfast.

“As you can see I’ve had a very busy life. I even joined the Portglenone monks, Cistercians for five years when I was 18. That was very good for my faith and deepened my spiritual life.”

During a recent ceremony in Armoy, Fr. Nellis was officially ordained replacing Father Raymond Fulton.

“I have been in Armoy for a month now and I have received a tremendous welcome from all the congregation,” he added.

“Everyone is there for the church and have given me great support - I couldn’t have asked for better. At the moment I haven’t found problems, everything seems to run smoothly. I guess that’s thanks to Fr Fulton who has left behind quite a legacy for the parishioners.

“Over his seven years, Fr Fulton made numerous improvements to the church, hall and parochial house as well as helping local sports clubs climb the ladder of success.

“I have a great mentor to follow, however I’m sure, like myself, Fr Fulton will enjoy his new post at Saul, County Down.

“I guess they say a change is as good as a rest, however I think it’s time for me to settle and Armoy is the place I’d like to do it. This is my third time here and I’d like to stay for a while.”