History of St Patrick, Southport

 

Growth and Life 1912 - 1957

In 1934 St. Patrick’s became a parish in its own right, with its first parish priest, Fr. Charles Murphy – a big man with a brave heart who had to endure some unpleasant insults and threats from a number of the locals. A deeply suspicious and insular form of Primitive Methodism, probably not typical, was not able to cope with the presence of this ‘papist priest’ and he was even threatened with being ‘tarred and feathered’!

How things have changed for the better!

During his time at St. Patrick’s, Fr. Murphy began to travel to Tarleton each Sunday to celebrate Mass, for the few Catholics who lived in the area, in an old garage which doubled up as a hen-coop. This ministry to Tarleton was to continue under his successors until Fr. Harvey, who later moved into St. Patrick’s as an assistant priest, was given the responsibility of building a church in Tarleton, dedicated to Our Lady, and in 1956 he went there as the first parish priest. Sadly Fr. Murphy’s ministry was quite brief and he died after just a year.

 

Fr. Charles McManus replaced Fr. Murphy in 1935, He was not a well man and suffered greatly from damaged lungs, (he was a victim of poisoned gas while serving as a chaplain in the Great War), but he began the task of building up the parish community. He was never without pockets full of sweets, which he liberally distributed to the children, and his large white handkerchief (essential for the chronic and debilitating cough which afflicted him) was his trademark! Anecdotes abound among those who still remember him with affection. Fr. Mac”, as he was affectionately known, while quite a strict man, also enjoyed a quirky sense of humour. After sprinkling the congregation with holy water at the ‘asperges’ at the start of Sunday Mass, he would whisper to the altar servers – ” …. that’ll wake them up!” During the blitz, when an aeroplane was heard overhead, he would challenge the servers to run outside, and the first boy to spot the plane and shout “jinx!’ would be rewarded with a silver threepenny bit.

One thing that upset him greatly was if anyone dared to steal a single apple from the large orchard at the back of the church – he obviously took the implications of the story of Adam & Eve to heart!

On Sundays after the two morning Masses he would squeeze into a small Austin car, with four or five altar boys – all fully vested, and speed up Preston New Road towards Tarleton, with vestments billowing Monty Pythonesque­like out of the windows, to celebrate Mass.

His housekeeper, Miss Hankin, doubled as parish organist. She was somewhat enthusiastic and hymns would gather in speed as Benediction or Mass went on. Fr Mac would regularly conspire with the altar servers to sing slowly – to keep her ‘steady’. His large frame was down to her too, she was superb cook!

One of God’s great characters, and a good priest, he cared for his people with great selfless dedication from 1935 until his death in 1957.

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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