History of St Patrick, Southport

 

The New Complex

 

 

 

Fr. Tom Leigh became Parish Priest in succession to Fr. Hickey in September 1995. His brief from the Archbishop was to reassess and update the 1975 plans for a new church building and to look to the needs of the parish with a view to providing premises for developing pastoral, liturgical and social aspects of a still-growing parish community.

After some months of appraisal and discussions with the appropriate Archdiocesan departments, it was eventually decided to use the building already in place, rather than to demolish, and to complement it by providing a new church building, and adapting the old, thus creating a new parish ‘complex’ – but within an agreed budget and within the limits of space available.

 

The first task was to initiate a major overhaul and up-grading of the Parish Hall. Originally built in 1969 it was in desperate need of major repair and redecoration as well as rewiring and new plumbing. New toilets were needed, a new kitchen and a complete refurbishment. If the Parishioners were to be invited to take on a major building commitment, an attractive, welcoming and practical parish centre was essential for motivating and sustaining the massive fund raising which would be needed over the next few years. And so in the autumn of 1996 a complete overhaul took place. Some of the work was necessarily contracted out, but a great deal was undertaken by volunteers and this had, by their own admission, the added bonus of establishing many new friendships within the community, which have blossomed and grown since.

Eventually, after more consultation with the departments of the Archdiocese, including the Arts & Architecture Committee, the ‘St. Patrick’s Millennium Project’, as it was styled, was offered to the Pozzoni Design Group of Altrincham, Cheshire, whose preliminary designs were felt to best represent the original brief. The target was that the new project should be completed in time to celebrate Midnight Mass at Christmas 1999 – the ‘real’ Millennium. A parish meeting was called in the newly refurbished Centre at which the whole scheme was explained and drawings were exhibited. A packed room of all ages and interests saw a unanimous decision taken to step out in faith and ‘go for it’! Plans were finalised, the contract was awarded to Bethell-White of Newton-Ie-Willows, and work began on site in mid-March 1999.

The project of building a new church, and adapting the old church to create a meeting hall, parish office, sacristies and kitchen, made good progress. The inconveniences and difficulties which such a project entails were borne with tremendous patience and support by the parishioners, and the response to what had to be a keen fundraising programme was met with outstanding generosity and enthusiasm.

The foundation stone was blessed at a special Mass on the feast of St. Patrick 1999 and the new Church was to be ready for the celebration of Midnight Mass at Christmas 1999 – the Millennium Jubilee. In spite of the apprehension of many, it happened! Two such Masses were celebrated, one at 9.00pm and one at Midnight, both packed to overflowing. Between the two Masses there was a magnificent fire­work display to mark this first celebration in the new church and the Millennium Jubilee of the birth of Christ. It was a night never to be forgotten by all those present – and there was more to come!

His Grace Archbishop Patrick Kelly had kindly agreed to be with us on the feast of St. Patrick, 17th March 2000, to dedicate and formally open the new church and the adapted buildings.

The hard work of so many, the inspired designs of the architects, and the quality work of the contractors all came together and our new church and complex was packed to capacity at the celebration Mass of Dedication. We were able to welcome local priests, and the clergy from our neighbouring sister Christian Churches, as well as representatives from the builders, architects and other associated organisations. The children were there in force and were invited by the Archbishop to sit on the sanctuary with him so they could be close to the action, especially during the anointings and placing of the relics in the altar. And the new choir, formed only at Christmas, enhanced the singing beautifully.

We were delighted to welcome the Deputy Mayor & Mayoress of Sefton who represented the wider community. But the real guests of honour that night were the parishioners themselves who had supported and generously financed the whole project. It was their night – a wonderful and fitting celebration, giving thanks to Almighty God for blessing us all so abundantly.

St Patrick’s Catholic Church

In the Pastoral Area of Southport and the Archdiocese of Liverpool

Contact:

Tel: 01704 228943 or 01704 531229

Email: stpatricks.southport@rcaolp.co.uk

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