OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY AND ST THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX

 
Stained Glass Windows, Our Lady of the Rosary Church
 

 


 

PARISH HISTORY

The First Twenty Five Years

'Where we came from so that we might better know where we ought to go.'


In 1914, when the first Belgian Refugees arrived here from their own stricken land, there was not a Catholic Church in Saltley to which they could go. A Belgian Priest, Father Durieun, said Mass for them in a room above the present Barclays' Bank at the corner of Washwood heath Road and Alum Rock Road. He remained with his Belgian people until the end of the War - beginning of 1919 - and then returned to Belgium.

During two of these years the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in a private room of a house at 55, Highfield Road. Then through the goodness of Dean O'Hagan, who as curate at Nechells and later Parish Priest of English Martyrs, had pioneered the work, rooms in Highfield Road School were acquired and Mass was said there. Fr. O'Hagan coming each Sunday from Sparkhill. In the words of Fr O'Hagan himself - "In the meantime, Saltley, where I had served as curate, was in great need, so I was ordered by Archbishop Ilsley to organise a new Parish there and prove the necessity of a new church and school.

 

Black Patch

"An intensive campaign for the necessary funds was stared, and before the end of the year we were able we wre able to present £1,000 to the first Rector - Fr Gateley to help him to secure the 'Black Patch' where he afterwards erected a huge Army hut for his large and growing congregation."

Fr. Gateley left in 1924, his successor Fr. O'Neill had to face a crushing debt of £6,000. How Fr O'Neill shouldered it from 1924 to 1927, and his successor Fr. Pat Noonan from 1927 to 1930 is best told - that Fr. Power came in 1930 he found this debt reduced to £4,000.

In the July of 1930 Fr. John Power was appointed here. Ordained on June 29th, 1913, in St Andrew's Cathedral, Glasgow.


At the outbreak of the First World War Fr. Power offered his services as a Chaplain to the Forces and from then until the middle of 1920 had charge of the spiritual life of the Submarine Flotilla based on H.M.S. Pactolus at Ardrossan.


Unfortunately in November 1916, in an attempt to give the Last Sacraments to the survivors on the torpedoed Norwegian vessel 'Hjornes' he was seriously gassed which badly affected his lungs.

He never recovered from the effects of the gassing and at the end of the War he was transferred. it was to the English Midlands where his two Priest brothers were. He spent a year with the late Monsignor Yeo at Walsall before being appointed Parish Priest at Silverdale, coming finally to Saltley.



Saint Thérèse

 

On his arrival in Saltley, Fr. Power immediately set himself to build a Church. He had to divert his energies first to the erection of a Presbytery. This was begun in the summer of 1931, and opened on January 6th, 1932. Three months later - April 4th, 1932 - the Feast of the Annunciation - (transferred) The Archbishop of Birmingham laid the Foundation Stone of the new Church, which Stone came out of the Shrine of the Annunciation at Nazareth. Six months later the Parish Priest and four of his loyal workers laid the last bricks in the Tower on October 3rd, 1933 - Feast of St Thérèse of the Infant Jesus. On October 17th, a relic of the True Cross and a lock St Thérèse's hair was placed in the ball beneath the Cross.

 

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latest update: 25/1/04