A Short History of



BLETCHLEY PARISH HISTORY, 1901 TO 2004
As far as can be ascertained, the present Bletchley Mission began in 1901. In that year Father E Garnett came over from Wolverton to celebrate Mass at Hill View, situated at the junction of Victoria Road and Western Road, the home of Mr William J Watson. The congregation consisted mainly of the Watson family. Mass was said and Catechism taught on a weekday.
In 1902 or thereabouts a plot of land at the junction of Victoria Road and Church Street was purchased from Rowland Bros for the purpose of erecting a Church there. The site was about a quarter of an acre in size and the price paid was four shillings per square yard.
During the 1914-1918 War, a military camp was established at Staple Hall Road and as accommodation at Hey Tor proved too small for the number of Catholics then in Bletchley, Mass was celebrated for a time at the Mission Hall in Bletchley Road by kind permission of the Vicar of Fenny Stratford. At this time the mission was further augmented by a number of Belgian refugees housed at 44 Church Street - the site of the Church at that time.
In 1920, the premises at 44 Church Street was bought by Father Walker from the Salvation Army to whom the property belonged. The Church was dedicated to St Thomas Aquinas and the dedication day was given as 4 January 1920. The purchase price was £275 and £75 was expended on repairs. The date of the opening was 30 May 1920. The building was erected in conjunction with the adjoining Salvation Army Hall in 1887. Its purpose was to house 20 Salvation Army cadets for training, together with their Commanding Officers. The long hall at the rear, now used as the Church, was apparently designed to act as a lecture hall or dormitory. Immediately preceding and for a time during the First World War, to 1944, it was used as a Salvation Army lodging house. Later a party of Belgian refugees occupied it.
Father Walker continued to serve the Bletchley Mission until his departure from Wolverton on 4 September 1921. He was succeeded by Father Wilson who was in turn followed by Father E Wimbridge on 4 July 1922. An entry in the Wolverton Mission book about this time gave the Catholic population of Bletchley as 55, of whom 11 were children. The average attendance at Mass was 20.
In 1932 Father C Bonham who was the Priest in charge of the newly formed (1930) Mission at Woburn Sands took over the Bletchley Mission from Wolverton and continued to say Mass there on alternate Sundays - 09:00 on one Sunday and 10:30 the next.
Father Bonham served Bletchley until 19 February 1938 when the Mission was put in the charge of the Sacred Heart Fathers, Priests of the Sacred Heart, with Father M Kusters as the first resident Priest. Up to that time the presbytery at 44 Church Street had been occupied by tenants. Later in 1938 Father Charles Riffelman joined Father Kusters; who was in charge until he was interned in 1940 as an alien.
In 1940, with the arrival of Father Leonard Tomlinson, the Church and Parish reverted to the care of the secular priests of the Diocese. Father Tomlinson became Priest in charge in July 1940. He immediately set about renovating the Church and the house, removing an old partition at the rear of the Church, blocking up the staircase leading from the dining room direct to the Church and transforming the sanctuary and altar.
June 15 1941 saw the first outdoor procession of the Blessed Sacrament from the Church to Victoria Road and back. This was well attended. On June 22 an extra Mass was held at 09:00 for members of the Forces. Permission was given by the local authority to withdraw children from school to attend daily Catechism classes from 09:00 to 09:30. 1941 also saw the foundation of the Legion of Mary in the Parish.
On 4 December 1941 the Church, described as 'Catholic Church, First Floor, 44 Church Street', was registered to solemnise marriages on its premises at 44 Church Street and the first public Catholic marriage took place on December 26 between Bernard Woods and Mary Colbon.
4 January 1942 saw what was supposed to be the first Visitation by the Right Reverend J Leo Parker, Bishop of Northampton, after whom our school in Barton Road is named; at which time he administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to 20 candidates. During the summer a number of Irish agricultural workers took up residence at the Hog Pound Hostel, Steart Hill, Little Horwood. From August, Mass was celebrated at the Hostel each Sunday at 09:00
In February 1943 a Building Fund for the New Church was started with £110 in hand. The Junior Praesidium of the Legion of Mary was founded on March 24 with the first meeting taking place at 135 Bletchley Road.
In Sunday 16 January 1944 a Mass centre started in Hut 12, Bletchley Park for Foreign Office personnel who had been evacuated there for the duration of the War. Mass was celebrated there every Sunday at 07:30 and on 13 February an extra Mass started being celebrated at 09:05
In 1945 a men's "Sodality" was formed to undertake fund raising for future Church expenditure, Parish outings, socials, dances, children's entertainment, etc. Holy Communion and their meeting took place on the first Sunday of the month.
Father Tomlinson left the Parish for Cromer in 1946 and was succeeded by Father Kevin Jones in October. A social and presentation to Father Tomlinson were held at the Swan Hotel on Wednesday 4 December.
During this year a Parochial Development Fund was started. It was proposed to erect a hut on the Church site at Victoria Road to act as a temporary Church until the new Church was built. However, this proposal was not in fact put into effect and the Development Fund was amalgamated with the new Church Building Fund in 1948. A series of dances was held at the Assembly Hall in Wilton Avenue, the proceeds of which were devoted to the Development Fund.
The Parish choir was formed in October of this year with some ten members and their first sung Mass was the Midnight Mass on 25 December. Entry to this Mass was restricted to ticket holders! A children's Christmas party was held on Saturday 27 December at the Swan Hotel followed by a Parish social in the evening.
On 7 February a Special Mass was celebrated at the request of the student teachers of Bletchley Park Training College to mark the end of the first academic year.
Father Kevin O'Driscoll noted on passing 44 Church Street on 15 March 2000 that builders were working there. The builders are also converting the area previously occupied by the Catholic Church into bedrooms on behalf of the Council. The building will, in due course, be used to house the homeless.
From and including 27 March the 09:15 Sunday Mass at the Church was suspended and transferred to Station Church in the RAF Station, Church Green Road to meet the needs of the growing population in that area of the town and also to relieve the continued overcrowding in Church Street.
Local Catholics' Pilgrimage to Rome
The year 1950 is a Holy Year for the entire Catholic world. Already since its inauguration by the Pope on Christmas Eve many thousands of pilgrims have made the journey to Rome in order to gain rich spiritual blessings to be derived from making the Jubilee Indulgence. While there each pilgrim must make a visit to each of the four Major Basilica - St Peter's, St Paul's, St Mary Major and St John Lateran, and there pray for the Pope's intentions.
"The Pope has at the very outset of this Holy Year declared to the world what his intentions are - the sanctification of souls through prayer and penance, world peace, the defence of the Church against the attacks of the enemies of Christianity, and the realisation of social justice for all mankind.
A newspaper cutting dated 27 October 1951 states that £200 was still needed for the necessary extensive repair work to the walls and floorboards of the Salvation Army Hall in Church Street.
Once more the round of jumble sales, dances, whist drives and outings took place in 1951, with a visit to the pantomime on 6 January. A visit to the Community Centre took place on 14 January see a film on the life of St Vincent de Paul. A Boy's Club was formed on 30 May and held its' meetings at the presbytery. Wicksteed Park was visited on 12 August.
In 1953 a Mr J S Comper, FRIBA, of London, drew up plans for the new Church; the Bishop approved these on 29 April and permission was granted for building to proceed. Although the architect had designed a complete Church, it was decided to only build the east end at present. On June 22 a building licence in the sum of £8,500 for the Church was applied for through the Licensing Officer in Reading. Fund raising continued apace throughout this time and it is interesting to note that in a newspaper cutting of the time all the stalls and stallholders were listed for what had now become the Annual Bazaar.
The planning and building of the new church moved on apace this year with fund-raising being heightened - with many dances, draws, bring and buy sales, Whist drives and the like being held to swell the building funds.
On March 29 the architect's plans for the new church were approved. Permission was granted by the Bishop for building to proceed. Although the architect had designed a complete church, it was decided only to build the east end for the time being.
Late in June Bletchley UDC arranged that land at the junction of Church Street and Victoria Road, belonging to the Diocese for a possible Church, should be sold to the Post Office for the erection of a Telephone Exchange. This was agreed and on October 5 the sale of this land was completed for £600.
On September 7 a Catechism Class was begun at 22 Saffron Street between 9:00 and 09:30 to serve children attending a new school at Water Eaton. A daily class was also held at Holne Chase School.
In 1954 on January 19 the Town Planners granted permission for the new Church and fund raising activities went up a gear with even more jumble sales, tea parties, Derby draws, etc. Parishioners arranged tea parties at their homes to raise funds for the new Church.
During February 1956 an appeal was launched to purchase chairs for the new Church at a cost of 35 shillings each. Fund raising in the form of dances, jumble sales, etc continued to raise funds for the building of the new Church.
The building of the new Church was making rapid progress now that the finer weather had come, 'Its pleasing aspect has aroused widespread favourable comment in the town.'
The revised Holy Week ceremonies attracted very large congregations and it was most impressive to see the substantial increase in the numbers who received Holy Communion.
The Men's Guild had undertaken the formation and running of a club for boys 'a very necessary addition to the life of the Parish. A successful day retreat on April 15 at Thornton Convent had been organised by the women's section of the Guild of the Blessed Sacrament in conjunction with the Guild from Wolverton. It was hoped that this might become an annual event.
20 April saw an order placed for a carved wooden statue of Our Lady, based upon the painting by Sassoferato (Burns Oates) for Our Lady's Chapel in the new Church. On May 6 gilded wooden candlesticks and a Cross were ordered for the High Altar.
In June 15 1956, Mass was celebrated for the last time at 44 Church Street and on September 7 the old Church was converted into the Parish Hall.
On May 1 1957 the daily Catechism class for children attending Saints and Castle schools, hitherto held at 40 Kenilworth Drive transferred to 53 Tattenhoe Lane.
The new carved wooden Statue of Our Lady was erected in the Lady Chapel on September 9 and in October the final account for the new Church in the approximate sum of £11,444 was presented and settled. However, the total cost for the Church was £13,000
On December 9 Father Kevin Jones who had been Priest in charge in Bletchley during 1946 -1947 died, RIP.
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society held it's first meeting on the feast of St Thomas Aquinas on 28 January 1958. The Social Committee was active and fund raising continued apace.
In 1959, Parish life continued with various services, processions and fund raising. An occasional Polish Mass was said as was the occasional Mass at Drayton Parslow Hostel.
Father Carey's dedicated work continued and he could be seen as a strict pastor. In February 1960 the debt on the Church of St Thomas Aquinas is cleared. In March the Church is redecorated and on 17 May, Father Carey moves into the new presbytery adjoining the Church. The presbytery was built at a cost of £4,600
In 1961 an appeal was made for donors for the Stations of the Cross at £10 each. This was fully subscribed within a week and they were erected in the December. Donations were also requested for a Sacred Heart statue costing some £70 to £80. The first whispering of change Dialogue Mass began at the 10:30 Mass.
The Vatican Council opened in October. The Parish would never be the same again.
An organ fund with a target of £800 was launched, as was an appeal for KSC council members.
Fund raising and plans for a new Church on the site at Whaddon Way are going apace with the same architect, Sebastian Comper, being used to design the new Church. A clipping from the Bletchley District Gazette shows the architect's drawing for the new Church. "There are financial and other problems to be overcome and no estimate of cost or of when building will begin can yet be given. One thing has been decided however, the new Church will be named All Saints." A newspaper clipping dated 16 November 1963 confirms the development fund benefiting from £170 as a result of a bazaar held at St Martin's Hall.
In the autumn, a second Priest was appointed, a Father Flannery from Lancaster Diocese which allowed four Sunday Masses to be said: two at St Thomas' at 08:00 and 10:30 and two at the Labour Hall at 09:00 and 11:00. A second confessional was donated for the Church.
On May 10 1964 Bishop Leo Parker laid the foundation stone at the half-completed All Saints Church. In his address the Bishop spoke of the need for tremendous support for the new building. It had burdened the Parish with a large debt, and in the Church's programme for Bletchley for next year was a Catholic school, which also had to be paid for.
The building, the cost of which is £31,000 without any furnishings or fees, is now well advanced. The laying of he foundation stone was delayed so that the Bishop could be present. The ceremony was of the 'new' type, much shorter than the services of old - only lasting some 20 minutes. The Bishop and his party entered the Church and made their way along the main aisle to the site of the high altar, marked with a large plain wooden cross.
The site of the altar was blessed by the Bishop who sprinkled it with holy water; he then progressed around the Church blessing the walls with holy water. During the ceremony, the choir sang in Latin. The Bishop blessed the foundation stone and laid it, cementing it in with a silver trowel. The Latin inscription on the stone translates as: "To the grater glory of God, this stone was laid by Leo, Bishop of Northampton, on 10 May 1964, in honour of all saints, during the second Vatican Council, and in the reign of Pope Paul VI."
All Saints Church was blessed on Thursday 9 February 1965 at 19:00. This was followed by a reception in the Labour Hall. The total cost of construction was some £37,000
For many years the instruction of children had been well organised with Catechists entering many schools at 09:00 to take the Catholic children. Monthly meetings of these catechists were now organised. In October, the Sunday afternoon classes were taken over by the Sisters from Thornton.
In November/December Father Flannery was replaced by Father O'Leary
On Saturday June 18 the Foundation Stone of St Thomas Aquinas School (total cost just over £80,000, with a grant from the Ministry of Education of some £50,000) was laid.
In November the Guild of St Stephen was started.
St Patrick's night 1967 was celebrated with a grand dance held in the Wilton Hall.
The entry for 1968 is somewhat sparse with the first mention of a United Service in the Freeman Methodist Church - "Catholics may attend". St Patrick's night was celebrated with a dance in the Labour Hall and a fete was held in the school grounds in May. Add to this a reference to a mission being held in November in both churches at once and that concludes the entry.
January 1969 saw a five week planned giving campaign to help the Parish pay off its debts.
In February ecumenical talks were held on the new city of Milton Keynes, which would of course include the existing town of Bletchley.
The Church Notice Book ends abruptly with the notices of 19 October. Father Carey moved to Slough and was replaced by Father Harris. Thus ended a long and arduous term of office during which two churches and one school had been built. To the last the old round of devotional practices was followed and it is not known whether this attracted as many people as in earlier years.
Unfortunately no Church Notice Books exist for the period from October 1969 through to October 1974 so that only a very vague history can be compiled.
Father Eschle left and Father Vesey came - in around August/September 1970, but he did not stay very long and left in May 1971. Father Feighan (who went on to be Parish Priest of Thrapston) was in Bletchley roughly from July to September of the year. Father Wallace came about November time. Father McAleenan, a Carmelite who had belonged to the community at Gerards Cross came about March 1972.
A new block was added to the school to accommodate the extra year when the school became a Combined School (encompassing First and Middle).
In October 1974 Father Harris moved to St Clare's in Aylesbury and Father Godden came from Sundon Park in Luton to take his place. A presentation for Father Harris took place on 6 December.
In October 1974 Father Duane moved into a Corporation Home in Netherfield - he was to be in charge of the new Church at Coffee Hall.
An electric organ was loaned to All Saints during 1975 and was subsequently sold to the Parish for a very small sum (£200).
CAFOD was adopted in the Parish, the first project was the provision of radios and oil lamps for the Radio School run by nuns in Guatemala, and the target was £1,250. A 'Hundred Club' was started.
In September Bishop Parker School opened with Mrs Nora Walker as Headmistress.
Lay readers and acolytes were commissioned in July 1976, as were more people to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion.
The new Church of Our Lady of Lourdes was blessed and opened in Coffee Hall. Father Duane, now out of hospital, and Father Hardy lived in the presbytery until the new Church at Coffee Hall was ready.
Latin Mass was celebrated weekly, later monthly, at All Saints on Mondays. The 'Folk Group' now played twice a month at All Saints and once a month at St Thomas'.
Donors came forward to provide public address systems for both churches. In addition green and red frontals, red vestments and paint to decorate All Saints were also donated. Volunteers decorated the Church in six days. The sacristy at St Thomas' was rewired and redecorated. The waiting room and corridor were also redecorated.
The Nursery Unit at Bishop Parker School was opened in September, and the Bishop formally opened and blessed the School in October with a concelebrated Mass.
During 1977 lay speakers at Mass included members of Marriage Encounter, the Legion of Mary and the St Vincent de Paul Society.
The remainder of St Thomas' Church was redecorated by volunteer labour, this took about a fortnight. The hanging behind the High Altar was removed and a Parishioner offered to carve a crucifix. A public address system was installed, thanks to a kind benefactor. We were given a stone statue of St Thomas Aquinas from Shefford Homes, where there had been for a time a seminary dedicated to St Thomas.
The parishes of Coffee Hall and Stantonbury were set up leaving Bletchley a strange shape - a sort of pincers going out to Walton and Loughton.
The CAFOD African project was completed and a new one selected - the provision of pumps, pipes and tanks to bring fresh clean water to St Joseph's School, Sugnu, Manipur, India - the target being £1,200.
Father McAleenan moved to Burnham in October and a very successful farewell dance was held in the Wilton Hall at which he was presented with a cheque for £400. He was replaced by Father Michael Sellars who was only with us for a few weeks before he was posted to Castle Street Parish in Luton and by the end of the year no replacement had arrived.
In 1977 the Parish met its financial target for the first time since the debt had been so vastly increased with the building of Bishop Parker School.
In January 1978 the new Deanery of Milton Keynes was set up. A crucifix carved by Mr Follows was given to St Thomas Aquinas Church
The Sugnu CAFOD project was completed and another project was adopted - this time in Lima and to raise £1,500 to train mentally handicapped people in poultry farming and market gardening.
A new CAFOD project was taken on - 'fighting infant malnutrition in the Dominican Republic'; a Prayer Group was formed at 8 Peebles Place on Sunday evenings and a section of the Catholic Women's League was formed.
A gas heating system was installed at All Saints Church, replacing the under-floor system and a 'feasibility group' was formed to look into the question of a Parish Hall.
Father Whitfield came to the Parish for August and returned as a permanent assistant during October. Mass was said in the Stoke Hammond and Newton Longville village Churches during December.
Mass was celebrated in Whaddon Parish Church in January 1980 and Father Mark from St Martin's (Church of England) Church preached in the Unity Octave at the 11:00 Mass.
Father Whitfield started a Football Club and was involved in 'Youth Encounter' as well as other youth activities, thereby filling a serious gap in the Parish. Father Whitfield as acting as Chaplain to Bishop Parker School and concentrated on the Lakes Estate.
The minibus came into use on January 1 1981 and proved to be very useful. A garage was built at St Thomas' to house the minibus and Father Whitfield's car. A Senior Citizens' Club was formed and had regular meetings. The Scouts completed their hut in the grounds of St Thomas' School and the Guide Company restarted under the guidance of Mrs Worswick.
A new CAFOD project was taken aboard with a £1,500 target to go towards the eradication of Leprosy in Vietnam.
On June 4 1981, the exact Silver Jubilee of the original blessing, St Thomas Aquinas Church was solemnly dedicated by Bishop Grant. A new altar, lectern, tabernacle shelf and hangings were purchased for this occasion.
During 1982 two new CAFOD projects were undertaken, each in the sum of £2,000. One project was for agricultural training and self-help schemes in Bolivia and the other for a venture in Zaire.
A new organ, made by Spth of Freiburg, West Germany, was installed at St Thomas Aquinas Church at a cost of some £11,000. The Parish joined the reshaped Milton Keynes Christian Council. Large numbers of parishioners went to the Papal Mass in Coventry.
1984 saw the completion of the CAFOD project in Zaire, having raised £2,000 and a new project was undertaken, to provide a sunflower oil press, at a cost of £2,500, in Tanzania. This was duly paid for and a new commitment was made to raise £2,500 for Brazil.
The first turf was cut for the new Comprehensive School of St Paul's in Coffee Hall Parish.
In 1988 it was decided in principle to 'give' the Chalice at all Masses. The Parish took a full part in the Diocesan Assembly and haled another mini assembly in order to brief our five delegates. Afterwards the latter spoke at the Sunday Masses.
New head teachers were appointed for the schools. Mrs McGrew for St Thomas Aquinas and Paul Atherton for Bishop Parker respectively.
The Parish got out of the red at last and was about £6,000 in the black at the end of the year. It had been agreed to raise £15,000 per annum for St Paul's School. This sum was achieved in 1988.
1989 saw a reduction in the Saturday and Sunday Masses from seven to five. The evening Mass on Saturday was moved to St Thomas Aquinas Church and made a folk Mass. The Bishop Parker School Mass was stopped and a minibus pick-up was arranged for the Lakes Estate. The 08:00 Mass was also stopped. However, collections did not go down, in fact they rose by 10%; but according to the Mass count we were 70 people down. All Masses were now 'full'.
A Parish Worker, Mrs Angela White, was employed for 20 hours per week from October. A lengthy consultation process took place before this appointment was made and the Parish voted 276 for and 21 against. Angela enrolled in a training course, Pastoral Care, Counselling and Human Relations at the Richmond Fellowship College, London.
Training began of counsellors for MK CMAC in 1990, several from Bletchley. A good Ford minibus was purchased. The Parish was part of the Covenant entered into with the Bletchley Churches in June. A Parish Encounter or Assembly was held in October, led by Father Paul Hardy. The theme for this was Family Life. A new 16+ Youth Group was started.
Michael Harrison was ordained Priest in All Saints Church in July. The Altar at St Thomas Aquinas Church was raised and brought forward. A new carpet was laid in the Sanctuary. Children's Liturgy, which was already operating at All Saints Church, was begun at St Thomas Aquinas Church. Eucharistic Services conducted by lay people were begun when there was no Priest available to say Mass.
Our new Bishop, Bishop Leo McCartie said Mass for the Deanery in St Paul's School. Our Folk Group and others provided the music for this service. St Edward the Confessor Church was opened in time for Christmas at Shenley Father Healey arrived to start a new Parish on the east flank of Milton Keynes and a slice of territory, including the area near the Open University was given to him.
On July 4 1992 Francis Higgins was ordained Priest at his Parish Church of Our Lady of Lourdes at Coffee Hall by Bishop Leo McCartie.
Francis was born on 23 August 1967, the eldest son of Raymond and Irene.
The family moved to Milton Keynes in 1975 where Francis was educated at Simpson School and the Sir Frank Markham Secondary School.
After studying science "A" Levels, he worked in a laboratory in Milton Keynes before going to Oscott to study for the priesthood in 1986. He was ordained Deacon at Oscott on 29 June 1991, and ordained Priest at Our Lady of Lourdes, Milton Keynes by Bishop Leo on 4 July 1992.
Francis was appointed assistant priest at St Thomas Aquinas Church, Bletchley/
St Thomas Aquinas School, the first Catholic School to be built in Milton Keynes celebrated its 30th birthday in September 1997 Father John Leaver died suddenly, but peacefully, in the presbytery at St Thomas Aquinas Church on 29 September 1998. He had worked and lived in the parish for 23 years and the extraordinarily large number of people who attended his funeral was a testimony to how much he was loved and appreciated in his one and only Diocesan home.
Father Kevin O'Driscoll celebrated his Silver Jubilee on July 5 1999, having been 0rdained as a Priest on 5 July 1974. A special Mass of thanksgiving and celebration was held at the Wilton Hall. Bishop Leo also attended the Mass. The Parish presented Father Kevin with a trip to New Zealand and Australia.
Sadly, Father David Goodstadt came to a momentous personal decision in that he felt he could no longer continue life as a Priest and revoked his vows.
The year 2000 saw Noel Guina NVO ordained to the Permanent Diaconate by Bishop Leo McCartie on July 8 at 11:00 at All Saints Church.
Permanent deacons, both celibate and married, formed a distinct order in the early Church and provided a special service for the people of God. By the fourth century they appear to have been universally established, but in the following century their numbers declined.
The second Vatican Council was convinced that this ecclesiastical ministry was instituted by God and called for the restoration of the permanent diaconate, which it describes as a "service of the liturgy, of the word and of charity." The Church allows married men of 35 years or more to be ordained deacons, but they may not remarry if widowed.
He now serves the parish by assisting a Mass, preaching, baptising and officiating at weddings and funerals. He is not however permitted to say Mass or to give absolution for sin.
Noel prepared for his ordination by study and prayer. He worked with a tutor and a spiritual director and is completing a Theology Degree at London University.
Noel joined the parish team of Angela White, parish assistant since 1990 and John Owens who is visitor to the retired.
There was great rejoicing in the Parish as our own Father Kevin O'Driscoll was made a Canon of the Cathedral Chapter. Bishop Leo installed Father Kevin as a Canon at the Chapter Mass at 11:00 on Thursday 2 November 2000, at the Cathedral in Northampton. This was a public Mass and a light buffet meal was held in the Cathedral Social Club afterwards. This is not only a great honour for Father Kevin but also for the Parish; he is one of only ten Canons in the Diocese.
Until the eleventh century canons were priests of a cathedral or collegiate church who lived within the precincts. Later they became the cathedral administrators and could live outside. Nowadays the title is an honour. Ten canons form the chapter, which meets twice a year to pray and meet with the Bishop. Bishop Leo had recently said that the chapter was in place to advise him when he wanted it. "Although sometimes," he added "the canons offer advice without being asked!" One of their duties is to ensure that the cathedral liturgies are properly carried out. Father Kevin, as he still wished to be known, said at the time of the Parish "The people here are delighted. They feel it's a recognition."
The year 2001 is our Parish Centenary and much has been planned for this year by way of celebration and thanksgiving. Two future events stand out: The central event of our Centennial Celebrations will be a great outdoor Mass in the grounds of Thornton Convent on 24 June. The second, and perhaps in a way of even more impact, will be the consecration of All Saints Church on November 1.
2002 Sadly, the inevitable happened this year and Bishop Kevin advised Father Kevin in July that he would be moving to Langley, Slough in September. The Parish was obviously much saddened that it would be losing a Pastor, a Mentor and most of all, a Friend. A collection was raised and presented to Father Kevin at a Mass and Ceilidh held on 6 September 2002, when the Parish said farewell.
The new parish priest will be Father Michael Harrison who had been ordained Deacon here so many years ago.
Father Kevin, as he prefers to be called Father rather than Canon, is an ardent golfer and has spent many a happy hour in the parish with his golfing chums.
2004 Father Michael is still the Parish Priest for St Thomas Aquinas and All Saints. He is the only Parish Priest at the moment. A Parish Secretary has been employed to help him with the administrative work. Deacon Noel assists him. So do Angela White and John Owens and many other voluntary workers. It is a good team.
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