Stained Glass Windows, Our Lady of the Rosary Church
Fr Power's Conviction
The existence today of Schools is entirely due to the fact that Fr Power was deeply convinced of the important part that Catholic Schools play in the work of the Parish and his solicitude for the Children spurred him on to provide this necessary help to the Parents and the Parish Priest in fostering the Faith and Religious Formation of the Child. The Catholic Children of the Parish were brought together every weekend for Catechism classes up to that point.
Parish House First
In his first interview with Archbishop Williams Fr Power asked permission to devote himself immediately to providing Catholic Schools for Saltley but he was not encouraged in this project and was ordered to build a Presbytery first of all and then a Church. He was able to inaugurate the new Presbytery on 6th January 1932 and open the new Church on 29th June 1933.
Local Education Authority
Fr Power found time to send in every year until 1935 petitions for Catholic Schools for Saltley to the Local Education Authority and the Ministry of Education. He enlisted the help of the Conservative Member of Parliament for Yardley, Sir Edward Salt. On one visit to the Ministry of Education in London he penetrated to the Chief Official for School Buildings and was able to rescue the demand for our Schools from the pigeon-hole where it had been shelved and forgotten.
From his first year as Parish Priest he gathered round him a devoted Schools Committee who worked tirelessly to support his efforts. In 1933 a petition, signed by 2,000 Catholics was sent into the Ministry and in 1934 it was backed up by another petition, signed by 10,000 Non-Catholics who recognised the justices of the demands.
The lack of Catholic Schools in Saltley caught the attention of the National Newspapers when two Catholic parents, Mr O'Reilly and Mr Finlan, crippled Ex-Servicemen of the First World War, refused to send their children to Non-Catholic schools. They would not pay the Court fines imposed on them and they were finally brought to prison by ambulance. The Prime Minister himself intervened and Sir Edward Salt was able to announce at our Parish St Patrick's Night concert in 1935 that permission to build our schools was provisionally granted.
The joy of the Parish Priest and Parishioners was greatly diminished when it became clear that although the Ministry gave permission to build the schools, they would not pay the 50% of the costs of building usually granted to Voluntary Schools and that the full cost of £60,000 would have to be found instead of £30,000 as had been anticipated.
Fr Power accepted this crippling addition to his commitments as a challenge and immediately sought the means of meeting them. He asked for extra sacrifices from his Parishioners and made a special appeal to the people of Ireland, who had already contributed generously toward the erection of our Church, and to whom the Clergy and Parishioners of Saltley can never be sufficiently grateful. Encouraged by the response Fr Power went ahead with the school project and on the Feast of the Little Flower, 3rd October 1935, Archbishop Williams laid the Foundation Stone of the new schools.
In digging the foundations for the schools a well was struck on the site of the West Wing and this added £12,000 to the costs. In addition to classrooms for 520 children there were rooms for special subjects such as Science, Woodwork, Weaving, Domestic Science and Needlework. There were two spacious Assembly Halls, a Medical Room, a Dining Room, Executive Rooms, Parish Meeting Rooms and a Recreation Hall.