HISTORY OF ST PATRICK'S
We should be grateful to the Sisters of Mercy who came to Wolverhampton in 1848 (and served the Parish until 1984) 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 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 Saint Patrick. 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 an Anglican Church bore the name St George, the name St Patrick would be the eventual name of the parish, this was most appropriate given the large percentage of Irish desiring a new Church.
In the nineteenth century in particular the forties and fifties many Irish catholics came to Wolverhampton especially from Gaiway, 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. For these reasons 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.
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 I 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 S.C.J. for a few years). 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 include extend to secondary education for girls.
THE NEW ST PATRICK'S CHURCH
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 detemination of Canon Aliport the ideal site was found adjacent to Heath Town park next door to New Cross Hospital and beside the Heath Town redevelopment.
The present church, presbytery and hail were built next to New Cross Hospital and opened in 1972. They replaced the old St. Patrick’s in Littles Lane dating from 1865 which was demolished to make way for the present ring road.
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 and the red cross at its centre symbolises Redemption. Twelve lights surround the red cross representing the apostles. Seven of the stained glass windows are originals from the old church renovated to provide a permanent link with the former grand building.
In 2011 new stained glass windows were designed by Deb Lowe. They use colour and symbols to illustrate the life of St Patrick. The five lights, each over 4 metres high, illuminate the entire nave so great care was taken to balance the light levels.
OUR PARISH TODAY
The Parish is served by a parish priest and a permanent deacon. 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; many God given gifts are being used to build the Kingdom of God in this place. Each particular type of service or group involvement requires commitment, time and energy.
The Hope Community project, Jesus Youth Group leaders, the S.V.P., the Friends of St Patrick, finance committee, ministers of Communion, readers, Church keepers and servants, Day pilgrimage organisers, Church welcomers, altar servers (we paid tribute to Ray Haynes our M.C for many years at his Requiem Mass in August 2010), counters, Church hail staff (manager & caretaker), organists, Sunday Cafe volunteers, event volunteers, Church display workers, flower arrangers and polishers and tidiers, offertory procession volunteers, offertory collectors, piety stall volunteers and stock controllers, volunteer maintenance staff, gardeners, parish treasurer and book keeper, catechists, Filipino community choir, parish hospital volunteers, hope community projects, school staff, governors and PTA.
The celebration of Mass is central to our lives as God’s people here at St Patrick’s. The impetus for our service and activities derives from God’s love for us in sending his Son Jesus to bring us life in the Holy Spirit, a life that is enkindled at every Holy Mass.
Our weekend Mass times are on Sunday 9:30am and 6pm.
Confessions are available on Saturday morning: 10:30am to 11am and Sunday evening: 5:30 pm to 5:55pm.