where heart speaks to heart
A new chapter has opened in the story of the Catholic community in Latchford, Grappenhall and Thelwall. Since the opening of our new church in June 2010 something new began and generations to come will add to this ongoing story.
It may well be that ours is the first newly built Catholic Church to be dedicated to Blessed John Henry Newman following his Beatification by Pope Benedict XVI at Cofton Park, Birmingham on 19 September 2010.
The church occupies a prominent position on Knutsford Road, Warrington. It provides a home for a new parish established from two former parishes, Our Lady of the Assumption and St Augustine of Canterbury. We continue to honour our heritage and retain the parish records for both former parishes as we play our part in the continuing history of the Catholic community in Latchford, Grappenhall and Thelwall.
We are truly proud of our community, our traditions and our new church. We look to the future with renewed faith and confidence. We offer a word of welcome to you whether you visit us at church or by simply visiting this web site. May God bless you and all those you love.
Our Lady Statue is a replica of the one from Walsingham Originally carved in Bolivia at Fr Roger Clarke’s behest, it was carried in processions by pilgrims from St Augustine of Canterbury. When St Augustine’s and Our Lady’s were amalgamated it became the principle image of Our Lady at the church on St Mary Street. Then, when our new church was being designed provision was made for the plinth on which the same statue now rests.
Fr Roger tells us how this all began: When I was in St. Augustine’s we used to make pilgrimages there. As you know, they have a statue for pilgrims to carry from the village to the shrine. On one occasion I asked the parishioners whether they would like one of their own. The answer: yes. While in Bolivia I had equipped a chapel with altar,ambo and a statue of Our Lady all carved at a carving school run by a nun from from the Tyrol (spelling? - Italian/Austrian border) the school is in San Jose de Chiquitos, a day and a half drive from Sta. Cruz. Just before I left Bolivia and the parish of Fatima in 2000 I also got a life size statue of Our Lady of Fatima made as a parting gift because the parish one was of OL of Lourdes. I was worried about the cost because I had priced a wooden one a metre tall in Fatima at €9,000. I needn’t have worried because it cost me just $500. All that to explain why I wasn’t worried about how much OL of Walsingham might cost. I took photos and measurements of the one in Walsingham and sent them off to the nun (I forget her name) with the request that they have “her” ready for September when I would be on a short visit and they were to be careful with the detail. E.g. The number of rings: four on one side and only three on the other - for the seven sacraments.
I forget the price. I think 400 pounds. You might find that in the archives of St. Augustine’s accounts, if you can get access. When I arrived in Sta. Cruz that September the statue was there waiting for me in umpteen layers of poly-wrap. The one thing that had worried me, apart from the fact that it was something new for carvers specialising in Our Lady of Fatima, was putting a time frame for September. Normally large carvings are done bit by bit giving the wood time to de stress, especially as the school uses relatively new wood. It turned out to be a justified worry as she developed a crack in Latchford. A place in Widnes (I think) or may be Warrington fixed it for me. The reason I went to this nun in the first place was because culturally here in Bolivia wooden statues are usually painted and look as though they are just plaster - a mortal sin in my book! In the Tyrol the wood is tinted and you can still appreciate the wooden carving. - sad to relate, since my departure the big statue in Fatima parish has now been painted and looks as though it were plaster.
Prior to this the story was lived by parishioners of two parishes and we are indeed fortunate that David Forrest, one of our former parishioners, took the time and care to prepare and publish two volumes of history representing the history of the Catholic community in and around Latchford over more than a century. We are pleased and proud to make these available to a wider audience as PDF files.
Our parish archivist and historian, Tricia Peters, has taken on her father's work and is collating material so that this story will continue to be recorded.
Another parishioner, Philomena McCarthy worked with Tricia to publish a booklet giving information about the preparation for, building and opening of the new church.
The only Catholic Church in Warrington south of the river Mersey during World War One was at St Mary Street. Following the war a memorial was placed there as a mark of respect for those who had given their lives in active service. This memorial is still the focus of an act of remembrance each 11 November.
This photograph shows the site on which Blessed John Henry Newman Church now stands. It dates from the 1930's.