OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY AND ST THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX

 
Stained Glass Windows, Our Lady of the Rosary Church
 

 


 

PARISH HISTORY II

The First Twenty Five Years

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

On January 2nd, 1933 - birthday of St Thérèse - the Archbishop consecrated the Carillon of 23v bells, given by Mr John Power, R.I.P. and on May Day 1933 the electric power was turned on the bells, and after 400 years of silence the Angelus was heard once more in Saltley.

A year later, June 8th 1934 - the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus the new Church was consecrated. Its total cost was in the region of £43,000, collected and paid in the brief space of two years. His Grace the Archbishop of Birmingham consecrated the Church and High Altar assisted by His Grace the Archbishop of Hierapolis, The Most Rev. Alban Goodier, who consecrated the Altar of St Thérèse, The Right Reverend Malachy Brasil, O.C.R., Lord Abbot of Mount St Bernard's Leicester, who consecrated the Lady Altar, The Lord Bishop of Shrewsbury, The Right Rev Dr Moriarty, who consecrated St Anne's Altar, and the Right Rev Dr O'Riley, Lord Bishop of Capetown, who consecrated the Altar of the Dead Christ. The Sacred Heart Altar was consecrated by The Right Rev Bishop Lee of Clifton who placed in its tomb a finger bone of St Oliver Plunkett, taken from his body in Downside Abbey. Also present were Bishop Day - ordinary to the Forces and Bishop Inigo Koenig, who spent years imprisoned in China by the Communists, 1950-53. The M.C. for this and every occasion was the Rev Bernard Griffin - later Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.

In March, 1937, the statues of St Anne, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St John Bosco, St John de le Salle, the brass memorial of St Oliver Plunkett were unveiled. The fact that Catholic children were obliged to attend Council Schools was a sore point and their education in a Catholic atmosphere by Catholic Teachers was receiving considerable attention. The story of this, however, is told elsewhere.

In 1935 Fr Power led thirty-four parishioners to the Canonisation in Rome of St John Fisher and St Thomas More. In May 1937, the Parishioners made a pilgrimage to Lisieux. That year was memorable as after the Novena of Thanksgiving in August, the Solemn Dedication of the Schools followed in October.

In May 1939, another pilgrimage to Lisieux took place, which brought an innovation. So many had been disappointed at not being able to take part for financial reasons, that a pilgrimage bank was founded in June to assist them. Also, in that month, the movement having been encouraged and fostered to assist the youth of the Parish, the Rosary Scouts held their first camp. In July a Retreat for Men at Harborne was being organised for September 29th.

Two years after the completion of the School buildings, all too short a time in which to enjoy the fruits of labour, the second terrible World War broke out in all its horror in 1939. The children were evacuated, and the schools were empty.

On September 3rd, 1939, the whole Parish was consecrated and placed under the protection of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Church had been opened and consecrated on the Feast of the Sacred Heart June 1934.

In April 1940 Fr Power reminded his people of that consecration and gave eight points, which are worth repeating, for Catholics in an air raid.


1. Remember the whole Parish is consecrated to the Sacred Heart.
2. Remember to keep the Lamp burning before the Sacred Heart.
3. Remember to have Holy Water in the home and use it.
4. Remember to keep yourself in God's grace for that is all that matters.
5. Remember to have a Sacred Heart badge on all your clothes new and old.
6. Remember a daily Holy Communicant is no stranger to Jesus Christ.
7. Remember Penance can be done privately.
8. Remember in an air-raid the Holy Mass will go on.

The first blow was delivered on November 18th 1940 when 65 fire bombs were dropped and ringed the buildings, and on the evening of 22nd/23rd of the same month, School and Presbytery were struck. Worse was to follow. During another night of terror, December 3rd, 1940, a 1,000 lb. bomb destroyed the South Transept and two 500 lb. bombs wrecked the West Front. To complete the destruction and havoc that had been wrought, a land mine ruined t he North Transept and with it the Sacred Heart window of the Church on April 10th, 1941. The School also suffered that night. The People, who with their own attendant private miseries, were appalled. In six short months of that dreadful winter the dreams of a Parish had well nigh vanished. That wonderful piece of work representing their toil and struggle, the visible triumph of a Priest and his Parishioners, lay shattered in ruins before them.

 


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latest update: 25/1/04