Parish of Kirkinriola

“When you see a priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests.


Welcome to our parish website. Ballymena is a large market town in the middle of County Antrim, one of the most northern counties in Ireland. We’re in the shadow of Slemish mountain.  In this area our means of communication have changed radically since Saint Patrick’s day, but the message remains the same:

Christ be beside me
Christ be in the heart of everyone who thinks of me
Christ be in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ be in every eye that sees me
Christ be in every ear that hears me

Fr Michael McGinnity 


I was born in Belfast and grew up in St. Gerard’s Parish. After graduation from Queen’s University, I studied for the priesthood in Rome and was ordained for the Diocese of Down and Connor in 1985. Following post graduate studies in both Rome and St Mary’s University College, I was appointed to Corpus Christi parish (1987 – 88) and St. Michael’s parish (1988- 97). I was then appointed full-time Family Ministry Director for the Diocese (1997 – 2010). Afterwards, I was appointed parish priest of St. Malachy’s parish (2010 – 22) and then parish priest of Kirkinriola parish in August 2022.

What made you want to become a priest?

I came to know priests at St. Malachy’s College whose life of service and goodness inspired me to consider the priesthood. I also found myself drawn to a deeper friendship with Christ through reading the Scriptures in my late teens.


What is your favourite line or verse in the Bible?

I find it hard to just pick out one verse. One line that fills me with hope is a line from the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians (3:21) – ‘Glory to him, whose power working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask for or imagine; glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus, forever and ever. Amen’


Who is your favourite saint and why?

Saint Oscar Romero, who was Archbishop of San Salvador when he was murdered for condemning the violence of government forces in 1970’s. I have always been inspired by his courage in preaching the gospel and his fidelity to Christ. He was a true priest and a servant of the people, especially the poor and vulnerable. He risked everything for love of Jesus and gave his life for him on 24 March 1980, while celebrating Mass.


Do you have any specific goals in mind for the next 2 years?

I want to help people develop their relationship with Christ through prayer and putting faith into action in practical ways in the parish and wider community. Central to this, will be building relationships with people of all ages in the parish. Helping young people to come to appreciate their own goodness and talents while guiding them to make a positive difference in the parish and wider community will be a priority. I also want to contribute in whatever way I cross community relationships and closer relationships with Christians of different denominations. Promoting social justice is a vital part of every parish community’s life. I do hope to explore with parishioners how we can best respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in our parish and the wider community.


What specific advice would you give to Catholics, who want to follow God in today’s world?

  1. Develop an adult prayer life that enables you to discover God’s will in daily life.
  2. Take time to learn more about our Catholic faith and the mission of Catholics in the modern world
  3. Take opportunities to put faith into action through volunteering in parish groups and/or local charities.


What is the best thing about being a priest? 

What I have enjoyed most is discovering the many ways in which God is at work in the lives of Catholics, other Christians, and people who profess to have no faith. Such discoveries require patient listening to personal stories as well as building relationships of trust in the parish community. It is well worth the effort, as I am learning so much about who Christ Jesus is and what he is trying to do through his Church.


What book would you recommend for people who want to live more joyful, meaningful lives? 

To live a more joyful life, I would recommend reading – ‘Gratefulness – the Heart of Prayer: An Approach to Life in Fullness’ by Br. David Steindl-Rast OSB. Its core message about approaching life with gratitude is life changing. I would also recommend his TED Talk on the internet.


If you could do things in your life differently, what would they be?

I would have chosen to learn a musical instrument at school. I would like to have travelled more in Europe as a young man.

Fr Joe Davis 


I was born in 1987 in Kottayam (Kerala -India). After my secondary school I joined Seminary in 2005 and was ordained priest in 2015 for the diocese of Belthangady. I served as a curate in three parishes from 2015-17. For the next two years (2017-19) I served as the Vice Rector in our Diocesan Minor Seminary. I was then appointed as a parish priest in a small parish for the next two years (2019-21). In February 2021 I came to the diocese of Down & Connor and served as a curate in St. Paul’s parish, Belfast for one year.

What made you want to become a priest?

In my family there are 12 priests and 7 nuns. Their frequent visits to my home and also the interaction with them, attracted me towards this vocation.


What is your favourite line or verse in the Bible?

Isaiah 6:8, Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”


Who is your favourite saint and why?

St.Alphonsa. She is the first saint of India. I was really blessed to be born and baptised in the same parish where she lived her early years before joining the convent. Through her intercession I have received many blessings in my family and in the life of my parishioners.


Do you have any specific goals in mind for the next 2 years?

To love and serve the people of our diocese and also try to promote more priestly vocations in our diocese.


What specific advice would you give to Catholics, who want to follow God in today’s world?

I would like to quote the words of Blessed Carlo Acutis, the saint of the 21st century as a small piece of advice, “I am happy to die because I have lived my life without wasting a minute on those things which do not please God.”


What have you enjoyed most about being a priest?

Praying and offering Holy Mass for the people and also visiting the sick and praying for them.


What book would you recommend for people who want to live more joyful, meaningful lives?

Story of a soul: The autobiography of St.Therese of Lisieux


If you could do things in your life differently, what would they be?

I have very few regrets in life. However, I would have changed my approach towards certain impulsively made decisions. Other than that, I wouldn’t want to change a thing.

Fr. Patrick Mc Kenna PE

Fr. Paddy was born in Derry City in 1944. The family moved to Ballymena in 1953 . He was educated in  Ballymena Boys Primary School and afterwards at St. Mac Nissi’s College, Garron Tower. He was ordained for the Diocese of Down and Connor in 1970 and taught in Garron Tower until 1984 when he was transferred to Our Lady and St. Patrick’s College, Knock in East Belfast (1984-1999). In 1999 he became Parish Priest of Dundrum (1999-2008). In 2008 he was appointed PP. of Holy Rosary parish in Belfast. (2008-2019.) On retirement he returned to All Saints Parish in Ballymena as priest in residence.

What made you want to become a priest?

My love of daily Mass as a teenager and my awareness of one or two priests who encouraged me to think seriously about priesthood. That love of the Mass was given to me by my parents esp. my father who encouraged me to go to Mass and receive the Eucharist. The priests who touched my life had a way with people that made them loved and respected. They were very pastoral in their relationships with people as well as being holy men. I wanted to be like that.

What is you favourite line or verse in the Bible?

“I will go on to the altar of God, on to God who gives joy to my youth”. It reminds me of my days as an altar server and reminds me of the great privilege it is to celebrate Mass. I usually recite those words silently on leaving the sacristy or at the foot of the altar.

Who is your favourite saint and why?

St. Patrick. He reminds me of what mission and evangelization is all about. I think he was a very human person and I have been much influenced by his “Confession” which begins with those words, ‘I Patrick a sinner’. St. Augustine as a philosopher, St. John Bosco as an educationalist, and St. John Henry Newman as a writer and philosopher have a special place in my list of favourite saints.

Do you have any specific goals in the next two years?

I would like to write something about my own personal experiences as a priest involved in Catholic Education for 50 years, whether as a teacher, a school Principal or as a member on various Boards of Governors. I would also like to collate the various homilies I have written and saved in the last 20 years as a priest in parish ministry.

What advice would you give to Catholics, who want to follow God in today’s world?

Take to heart the fact that we are all children of God and at the same time flawed human beings. Hold on to the fact that that the grace of sacraments are God’s way of helping us cope with life and enhance our relationship with him. Never forget the two commandments; love God and love your neighbour with all that it entails.

What is the best thing about being a priest?

The countless opportunities afforded to help people in need and the gratitude expressed when one makes the effort to be of help. Priesthood is an ideal way of following  in the footsteps fo the Good Shepherd.

What book would you recommend for people who want to live more joyful meaningful lives?

Undoubtedly the New Testament. I would also recommend “Prayers of Life” by Michel Quoist as a guide on how to pray and how to live out one’s life in a meaningful life as a follower of Christ. My favourite book is called “Paradise Alley” written by an Irish Writer, John D Sheridan. It is a about a teacher who lived his life coping with poor families in Dublin.

Prayer for Priests

Gracious and loving God, we thank you for the gift of our priests.

Through them, we experience your presence in the sacraments.

Help our priests to be strong in their vocation.

Set their souls on fire with love for your people.

Grant them the wisdom, understanding, and strength they need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Inspire them with the vision of your Kingdom.

Give them the words they need to spread the Gospel.

Allow them to experience joy in their ministry.

Help them to become instruments of your divine grace.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns as our Eternal Priest.


All Saints’- what does it mean to be a saint?

Kirkinriola parish celebrates the richness of our great faith, especially through the lives of the saints, which are a great guide for us all. Our churches contain many stained-glass windows of the saints who have lived up to the great potential for which God made them.

But who is a saint? The Catholic Church says that a saint is someone who has demonstrated heroic virtue, someone who is a friend of God, someone who is in heaven. Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good. Jesus is Absolute Goodness, pure love. Although we can sometimes view saints as other-worldly creatures, they are simply their most loving selves. St. Paul describes love in his Letter to the Corinthians: “love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” So each time we are more patient, kind and less self-seeking, we become more like Jesus, more like the saints which he invites us to be. We can begin today with simple acts of love.

Saints are those who have allowed Jesus to thoroughly transfigure them from within. Paul understood this when he observed, “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). In one part of the Bible, Jesus gets into Peter’s boat and says, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch” (Lk 5:4). For a Galilean fisherman, his boat was everything, his livelihood, his link to the wider world, his key to survival. Jesus’ uninvited boarding of the vessel represents the invasion of grace, the incoming of the divine into someone’s life. We presume that Peter had been successful enough as a fisherman, but now, under Jesus’ direction, he goes out into the deep and brings in more than he could ever have imagined. This is what happens when we invite Jesus into our lives. The saints are those who have allowed Jesus to get into their boats and who have thereby become not superhuman or angelic but fully human, as alive as God intended them to be.

The entire purpose of the Church is to produce saints. Scripture, tradition, Liturgy, and the sacraments are all means to this end. And this is why being aware of the saints is so essential to our lives in Ballymena. We need the saints in order to come to a richer understanding of God, for each saint in his or her particular manner reflects something of God’s perfection. We might think of God as an absolutely intense white light that, when refracted in creation, expresses itself in an infinite variety of colours. The saints reflect particular colours, and that is why their variety is so important in our lives. We all have the potential to become saints, and only God knows how we are doing on our journey. So it’s best not to compare yourself with other people, but start by focussing on who you were yesterday and steadily improve day by day through God’s grace. St. Mother Teresa sums up her identity and mission well, “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”

Just as the magnificence of a stained glass window can only be seen when the light shines and when we are on the inside, so we can only fully appreciate the beauty and richness of our faith when we are inside, in the churches of All Saints’ and St. Patrick’s, Ballymena! We are pleased to welcome you into our spiritual home.