360° CHURCH PANORAMA

    

Click on pictures above to see the Panorama of St Patrick's 
(the main church or side chapel)

BRIEF HISTORY OF ST PATRICK'S PARISH

THE OLD ST PATRICK'S

We should be grateful to the Sisters of Mercy who came to Wolverhampton in 1848 (and served the Parish until 1984 – see Hope Community history) and, having taken over a school at SS Peter and Paul's, were keen to start another to reach out to the Wolverhampton Irish in the locality. To this end an area of land of 660 square yards was purchased for £198 and the school was formally opened by Dr Ullathorne, Bishop of the Central District in 1849. On the floor above the school rooms a chapel was dedicated to St George and St Patrick.

In the nineteenth century, in particular the forties and fifties, many Irish Catholics came to Wolverhampton especially from Galway, Roscommon and Mayo. The established SS Peter & Paul and the newly opened SS Mary & John could not accommodate the number of people desiring to celebrate Mass. The number of Catholics in Wolverhampton had risen from 600 in 1800 to 5,500 by 1881. The Bishop recognised the need for a new parish to meet the spiritual needs of the growing Catholic population, the majority being newly-arrived Irish. As there was already an Anglican Church of St George in Wolverhampton, the name St Patrick was chosen for the new parish, this was most appropriate given the large percentage of Irish desiring a new Church.

Thus it was that in 1865 the parish of St Patrick was founded with the purchase of some more land and the building of the Church. The foundation stone of St Patrick's Church was laid in 1866 by Father O'Sullivan at the corner of Littles Lane and Carberry Street (now Westbury Street). Have a glance at the aerial photograph of the Church on the front cover, taken in the 1960's.

Many of the congregation lived in ‘Carribee Island’, the heart of industrial Wolverhampton. The island was bounded by Stafford Street, Back Lane, Carberry Street and Canal Street (later called Broad Street). Father Walter Hall was the first Parish Priest and he it was, who oversaw the building of the Church. It was designed in the Gothic style by Edward Welby Pugin.

Father Hall guided the parish through its formative years until 1893. Assisting him from 1885 was Father James Darmody (his name appears on the foundation stone of the workhouse / Hospital at New Cross, the entrance to the general office) who succeeded him as Parish. Priest and did much to beautify the Church including a sanctuary floor of mosaic work and extensive use of Irish and Italian marbles.

Other priests serving the parish include Father McDonnell until 1926, Father Lockett until 1934, Father O'Connor until 1943 (supported by Fr. Thomas Cahill SCJ for a few years). Then from 1943–1964 Fr. William Rooney. Many people remember with affection the fund raising acumen of Father Rooney! There was the legendary raffle: the cigarettes and the whiskey that would never be claimed but would appear again and again as prizes. Father Rooney would carry his tickets to all the local pubs including the Warwick and the Dan O'Connell (named after the great Catholic emancipator).

In 1948 the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev. J Masterson dedicated the Compton pipe Organ in memory of those who lost their lives in the two World Wars. The organ was carefully transferred to the new Church in the early seventies.

Many of our parishioners remember crossing the canal bridge and descending the nineteen steps to St Patrick's school. The Sisters of Mercy were very much in evidence Sister Mary Aquinas and Sister Mary Agnes. The school would later be extended to include secondary education for girls.

We were blessed for many years with the presence of the Polish community at St Patrick's in Littles Lane, a weekly Sunday Mass was offered and the Polish club behind the church sold delicacies as a reminder of home. Na Chwałę Bogu na Pożytek Polskiej Spolecznosci w Tysiaclecie (In the glory of God for the good of Polish society) was written up on the foundation stone of the new Church and club in Stafford Road in September 1971.

From 1964 Father Anthony Allport (later Canon) served for 38 years and presided over the building of a new Church and contributed so much to Catholic and spiritual life in Wolverhampton(Parish Priest of St Patrick's 1974-2002, died 2014).

THE NEW ST PATRICK'S

By 1964 many town centre developments were planned, forty streets of houses had been demolished and former parishioners were now spread among the outlying parishes of the town. The planned inner ring road meant our original location would have to be cleared, but not before a new site had been identified and acquired. Thanks to the fortitude and determination of Canon Allport the ideal site was found adjacent to Heath Town Park next door to New Cross Hospital and beside the Heath Town redevelopment.

The development commenced in 1970 comprising a Church, Parish Hall and Presbytery. The late Ernie Carrier (our organist for years) enjoyed explaining the process of construction, a process that included pile driving and the laying of a very deep foundation that is because we are built on an old mine shaft.

On 17th January 1971 Bishop Joseph Cleary laid the foundation stone, and the church was solemnly blessed by Archbishop George Dwyer in 1972.

Designed on semi-traditional lines, the new church is cruciform in plan and provides seating for 400 people. The layout conforms to the conditions required for the liturgy. The plan contains a chapel for daily worship (which also has dual use as a cry chapel for Sunday Mass), in addition to the main church.

The internal decor is worthy of note: the ceiling of folded plasterwork is a modern conception of the historical baldachin, or canopy, uniting the priest and faithful around the Altar. This was designed and constructed by Trumper brothers of Birmingham and aids the acoustics. The statues and Stations of the Cross were designed in Austria and finished in lime wood. A young-looking Saint Patrick is in an alcove flanked by specially designed stained glass windows. Above this alcove in the wall of the main block is a stained glass window representing creation. The red cross at its centre symbolises Redemption. Twelve lights surround the red cross representing the apostles.

Fr. Allport was always conscious of the wishes of the people to remember the ties with the old church and during the demolition of the original St Patrick’s he ‘rescued’ a number of items which he felt could be integrated into the new church. Seven of the stained glass windows are originals from the old church renovated to provide a permanent link with the former grand building: the three over the main altar and the four in the side chapel. The organ we have already mentioned. In addition he brought the old crib set with him which is still in use every Christmas to this day.

The parish was delighted to witness the ordination of one of its own: Father Thomas Kelly ordained on 8th September 1974. The Union of Catholic Mothers (who have given so much to the parish over the years) organised a reception in the Church Hall.

Other priests that have served for varying periods include:

  • Fr. Paul Orchard 1972-1975,
  • Fr. Edwin Cownley 1975-1979,
  • Fr. Eric Woodhead 1979-1980
  • Fr. James Dutton 1980-1981,
  • Fr. Michael Stack 1987-1990,
  • Fr. Jon Seeney 1990-1991,
  • Fr. Marcus Stock 1991,
  • Fr. Paul Fitzpatrick 1991-1993,
  • Fr. Jonathan Veasey 1993-1994,
  • Fr. Patrick Cocklin 1995-1998,
  • Fr. Brendan Carrick 2002-2004,
  • Fr. Eamon Corduff 2004-2011,
  • Fr. Martin Pratt 2011,
  • Fr. Dawid Piskorz from 2012.

For many years we were blessed to have a permanent deacon Michael Ainsworth in our Parish (1997-2011, died 2020). Since 2011 our permanent deacon is Mel Harwood.

In 2011, (after much fund-raising), under the watchful eye of Fr. Eamon, new stained glass windows were designed by Deb Lowe from Pendle Stained Glass and installed on the south elevation of the nave. They use colour and symbols to illustrate ‘the Life of St Patrick’: his early life, his mission in Ireland, his work and teachings and finally continuing faith through the ages. The five lights, each over 4 metres high, illuminate the entire nave so great care was taken to balance the light levels. The aim of this design was to create an atmosphere that is both calm and uplifting, to celebrate the Life of our Patron and 150 years of worship at St Patrick’s church, Wolverhampton.

In 2014 following yet more fundraising Fr. Dawid commissioned Deb Lowe to design the ‘Modern Day Saints’ stained glass windows on the south side of the nave. They represent St Therese of Lisieux, Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, and harmonise with the ‘Life of St Patrick’ designs on the other side. A banner of rich colour runs through the centre of each light, bordered by a variety of clear textured glass to allow plenty of light into the church. The windows were blessed by Bishop McGough on St Patrick’s Day, 17 March 2015.

OUR PARISH TODAY

There are many reasons to be encouraged when we reflect on the variety of work going on in the parish of Saint Patrick, week by week, year by year. We are a truly multiracial and multicultural Parish blessed with people of many nationalities. They enrich us with their presence. We are particularly fortunate to have a sizeable Keralan and Filipino community of nurses worshiping here, as well as people from many other countries, too many to mention here.

We are grateful for every type of service and group in our Parish: the Friends of St Patrick, Parish SVP Group, Finance Committee, Liturgical Committee, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Readers, Altar Servers, St Patrick’s Youth Choir, Children’s Liturgy group, church keepers, parish pilgrimage organisers, church ushers, counters, Sunday Cafe volunteers, annual event volunteers, church display workers, flower arrangers and brass polishers, offertory procession volunteers, offertory collectors, piety stall volunteers, gardeners, parish treasurer and Gift Aid Organizer, catechists, Hope Community staff and volunteers, school staff and governors, etc.

CONCLUSION

The celebration of Holy Mass is central to our lives as God's people. The incentive for our service and activities derives from God's love for us, which is communicated to us so powerfully at every Mass.

Our weekend Mass times are on Sunday 9:30am and 6pm.

Confessions are available on Saturday morning: 10:00am to 10.30am and Sunday evening: 5:30 pm to 5:55pm.


Our Patron - Saint Patrick

Let us allow our patron saint to answer the question: ‘I am Patrick, a sinner, the most unlearned of men, the lowliest of all the faithful, utterly worthless in the eyes of many. My father was Calpornius who was a deacon and a son of the priest Potitus. He ministered in a suburb of Bannaven Taberniae where he had a country residence nearby.’

Saint Patrick’s penned these words in Latin at the beginning of his confessio (confession) that reflected on his extraordinary grace filled life. From this piece of writing and his letter to the soldiers of Coroticus we derive an insight into his honesty, humility and courage.

There have been many a reflection and biography of Saint Patrick over the years and literature is still widely available on the internet, bookshops and libraries. We will pick up on a few aspects of his personality and life here.

The name Patrick derives from a Latin word meaning nobleman. Although he was not a nobleman his early years might be described as privileged. He was a citizen of a Roman empire that was experiencing decline and harassment from invaders. His earthly life began around 400AD probably somewhere near the mouth of the River Severn though his birthplace may have been Boulogne-sur-mer on the French coast. The matter is of little import given that he was a man born of God, a citizen of heaven
and on fire with the Holy Spirit.

Despite his education being cut short at sixteen when taken captive he never doubted the quality and diligence of the pastors responsible for his Christian instruction. He was later to confess that he had turned away from God, disobeyed his pastors and broken the commandments despite his Christian upbringing that would have included baptism.

The Spirit of the living God poured into the heart of Patrick during his six years as a herdsman on Slemish Mountain in County Antrim: ‘Even in times of snow or frost or rain I would rise before dawn to pray’.

During that prayer filled time Patrick underwent a conversion experience. We see the supernatural change in his personality following his first escape from captivity. Having landed their escape ship, the group wandered through deserted country and were hungry and desolate, the ship’s captain prevailed on the Christian faith of Patrick; his response was telling: ‘Turn sincerely with your whole heart to the Lord my God because nothing is impossible to him, that this day he may send you food on your way until you are satisfied; for he has plenty everywhere.’

It was after his second escape from captivity that he heard the call of the Irish: ‘We askyou boy, come and walk once more among us.’ Patrick was clearly filled with the Holy Spirit and heard the voice of the Lord.

On awaking on one occasion he recalled the words of the apostle: ‘The Lord who is our apostle expresses our plea. ‘(IJohn 2:1)

It was most probable after the call of the Irish that Patrick, sensing a vocation met with Bishop Germanus of Auxerre who would send him to train as a late vocation in Auxerre, France. Given his sanctity and missionary potential Patrick would soon be ordained Bishop to replace Palladius in Ireland. There was to be a number of frustrations and setbacks before Bishop Patrick would sail to Ireland to begin his mission.

A seventh-century biographer suggests Patrick’s work was mainly in north-east, central and western Ireland. Tradition suggests Patrick spent forty days and nights in prayer and fasting on what would be known as Croagh Patrick in County Mayo. A place we have visited as a parish. Some of us hope to make a day trip to Saint Patrick’s purgatory in Count Donegal, Lough Derg to sample some of the penitential exercises our patron left with us.

Patrick worked tirelessly baptizing and confirming Christians, and ordaining those with education and a calling to the priesthood. He encouraged men and women to embrace the monastic life. Patrick brought the gospel to those who followed ancient Druidic cults. In a letter, Patrick denounced the soldiers of the Welsh prince Coroticus who had plundered and murdered some of his converts.

In the conclusion to his confession Patrick urges his readers not to attribute to him any achievements but rather: ‘Let your conclusion and the general opinion rather be the real truth, that my success was the gift of God’.

St Patrick's Day 2017

PAULINE FATHERS

St Patrick’s Parish is under the guidance of the Pauline Fathers (the Order of St Paul the First Hermit; abbreviation OSPPE) since July 2012, when Fr. Dawid Piskorz became its Parish Priest.

The Monastic Order of St Paul the First Hermit was founded in 1215 in Hungary. The founder was Blessed Eusebius, a Canon of Esztergom. It was through his efforts that the hermits were united in monasteries under the patronage of St Paul the Hermit of Thebes, Egypt. He is regarded as the first hermit in Church history (227-341 AD) and his feast day is celebrated on 15th January.

With the motto, ‘Solus Cum Deo Solo’ (Alone with God Alone), the Pauline Order is a religious community of monks, which follow the Rule of St Augustine. Fostering a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Pauline Fathers are the custodians of the Miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

The Order spread rapidly throughout Hungary and then into Croatia, Germany, Poland and Austria. In the 16th century there were about 300 monasteries and over 5,000 Pauline monks. However the sad history of Europe ravaged by so many wars and religious persecutions, has dramatically reduced the numbers of a once large and flourishing Order; only a few monasteries survived.

The expansion of the Pauline Fathers’ Order has resumed after the First World War. As a result, today there are about 500 priests and religious brothers working in 16 countries. The Mother house of the Order is Jasna Gora, the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary with over 100 priests, and more than 4 million pilgrims visiting the Shrine each year.

The spiritual characteristics that shaped the Pauline Fathers from their beginning and distinguish its legacy and historic development are:

  • contemplation of God in solitude,
  • a love of prayer, especially liturgical prayer,
  • a poor and industrious life,
  • apostolic work inspired by the Holy Spirit, based on the signs of the times,
  • the frequent celebration of the Sacraments, particularly the Sacrament of Penance,
  • focus on the role of Mary in the mysteries of Christ and the Church, the imitation of her virtues and propagation of devotion to Our Lady.

THE ORDER HAS ITS MONASTERIES IN:

  1. AUSTRALIA
  2. BELARUS
  3. CAMEROON
  4. CROATIA
  5. CZECH REPUBLIC
  6. ENGLAND
  7. GERMANY
  8. HUNGARY
  9. ITALY
  10. LATVIA
  11. POLAND
  12. SLOVAKIA
  13. SOUTH AFRICA
  14. SPAIN
  15. UKRAINE
  16. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Dear Friend!
We invite you to serve God 
and people, in our Order.
If you are interested, please contact us.