top of page

St. MacNissis congregation in County Antrim, offers members and visitors a chance to become part of something greater to grow in their love of God and for one another within our beautiful community. We are rooted in the stories of the Bible, ably guided by our much loved Canon John Forsythe, and believe worship is something that can be expressed in everything we do. Our philosophy is founded on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. No matter who you are, there’s a special place for you at our church. Get in touch today or come and visit us in person.  

The History of the Church of Saint Mac Nissi, Randalstown          

The worshipping community of Saint Mac Nissi’s Church in Randalstown has roots that go back, in all likelihood, as far as St. Patrick’s evangelisation of Ireland in the fifth century. Written taxation records from 1306 refer to two churches at Drummaul and Cranfield, both of which continued in existence until the early seventeenth century. Church surveys of the time list them as ‘decayed’.

The Penal Laws in the first half of the eighteenth century, which saw the persecution of the Catholic  faith, led to the rise of open air Mass ’rocks’ and altars in secluded places around the country. This enabled the continuation of a worshipping community. Indeed, it is on the site of one of these open air Mass venues that the ‘old’ Randalstown church of Saint Mac Nissi, built in 1784, still stands on the Magheralane Road. This church was significantly extended in 1824 and developed yet again in 1894. It was in 1972 that worship ceased there upon the completion of the new church on adjoining land.

Tragically, this new church,   which had been dedicated by the Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr. William Philbin in 1972, was destroyed by fire in 1997, an unfortunate casualty of the political tensions at the time. It is testament to the faith, determination and resilience of the Catholic community that the Church that we have today was the practical response. Rooney & McConville who had been the architects of the previous building were pleased to design the contemporary new church under the guidance of our Parish Priest, Fr. Con Boyle. This new church was solemnly dedicated in December 1999 by the Most Rev. Patrick Walsh, Bishop of Down and Connor.

It is a beautiful place of worship, a contemporary building with striking interior features reflecting the tradition and the distinctiveness of our Catholic faith. The focus is on The Word of God and on the altar, the symbol of Christ’s presence among us at every Mass. It is extremely fitting that the seating arrangement is orientated towards the altar, so that everyone is included, worshipping together and called in closeness to His presence among us.

 All of the low-level windows in the main body of the church are of beautifully stained glass, in the age-old tradition of story-telling in glass. They depict various aspects of the Easter story from the Resurrection to the Ascension of Christ into Heaven. 

We are blessed in 2023 to be part of a vibrant and generous worshipping community. Like other churches, we were forced to close our doors for a period in 2020 in line with Government legislation in response to the Covid 19 pandemic. Stalwart efforts were made to ensure the continuation of meaningful worship within Diocesan guidelines. Notable amongst those were the outdoor Masses celebrated in a packed car-park with frost underfoot and swirling fog in the wintery morning air. Did souls at peace in ancestral graves nearby recall those ancient Mass-rock times?

We are hugely indebted to a long line of Parish Priests and curates down the chain of history of our church. May their blessed souls rest in peace.

In more recent times we have been grateful for the dedicated service of Fr Con Boyle for twenty years until his move to Culfeightrin . We are deeply grateful to Canon John Forsythe, Parish Priest at Saint Mac Nissi’s Church since August 2018, for all that he continues to do for the Catholic faith and the wider community here in Randalstown.        

Maureen Sheridan (for PPC) 7 FEB 2023     

STMAC2023 pano.jpg
bottom of page