Memories of a Parishioner ~ Teresa Hinchey

The History Of Our Church

In The Beginning - Memories of a parishioner.
It all really started with a happy event that took place in 1944 - the day my youngest daughter (Jean) was born. The Health Visitor who called on me was a member of the Pro-Cathedral Parish, on seeing a statue of the Sacred Hart in the hallway asked, "Are you Catholics here?" and, on being assured that we were, she was interested in where we went to Mass... and how!


At that time our nearest church was St. Teresa's at Filton and the only way that we could get there was to walk, even the children; so the whole of Sunday mornings would be taken up with the travel and the Mass itself. At the end of Patchway by-pass was an American Army camp whose Catholic members went to Mass at St. Teresa's by truck. They took pity on our children and, quite unofficially gave our children a lift each week... leaving us adults to "enjoy" the walk. The Health Visitor, in the meantime had obviously been talking to Mgr. Long at the Cathedral... who, in turn, spoke to Dr. Rea, the Parish Priest, for soon Dr. Rea called and asked me if I would undertake to find out the number of Catholics in the area in order that a request could be put before the Bishop for a Mass Centre to be started.Before such an enterprise could be undertaken, much work was needed to be done. Apart from finding out numbers, a suitable place had to be found for the celebration of Holy Mass. Dr Rea was instrumental in obtaining permission to use the old Social Hall in Rodway Road which, at that time was requisitioned for use by the Civil Defence and Fire Service; we were indeed privileged to be allowed to use this building... and most grateful! The Mass Centre was eventually opened that year on the last Sunday of October, the Feast of Christ the King. Dr. Rea himself celebrated the Mass with two server's from St. Teresa's assisting him. From the following Sunday we had our own local boys serving (Peter Hinchey and Austin Wilson). Their cassocks were made from black out material because of clothes rationing and, as the boys grew, so did their cassocks - with extra lengths added! Their surplices were supplied by St. Teresa's. On that first Sunday there was about 200 people present, coming from Patchway itself and the surrounding areas of Almondsbury, Little Stoke and Stoke Gifford. The large congregation of that first Mass was not maintained, though the numbers were always good and increased as the years went by.


On that first memorable Sunday, it was a case of "all hands on deck" in order to prepare the Hall for Mass but, over the months and years, people gradually had their own responsibilities ...... the alter being my husband Cliff's the alter carpet being carried from his home by young John Williams, etc. Because the table was too low for an alter it had to be balanced on two chairs and suitably draped in order to conceal them! Later, alter rails were made for us (courtesy of Mike Lord) and also a Cross and Flower stand (courtesy of the Bevan family who later emigrated to Australia and who also supplied most of the flowers used); my own harmonium was taken to the hall to be used by the choir.


The choir, quite strong in number, soon became proficient in material - learning many polyphonic masses, both in Latin and English, as well as other metres and hymns. Many people travelling the A38 en route to the South West or the Midlands and North would stop here for Mass and many were the compliments paid... the hall was not just a Mass Centre, for on Sunday mornings it became a Church.


As time went on, people produced kneelers for the Priest and servers, the stage became the sacristy, alters to Our Lady and the Sacred Hart were put up. The first crib was made for the Christmas Season had just the three main figures of the Holy Family costing £2.00 a set! To these were added wooden figures of other characters made by German prisoners-of-war at Horfield.A committee was formed to arrange fund-raising events. Our Dances, (especially the St. Patrick's Night Dance) would attract great numbers; they were great social events, as were the Jumble Sales, the Plays and multitude of other events.
Dr. Rea eventually bought a plot of land opposite the Social 
Hall which was later sold by Fr. (later Canon) Lucey in favour of a site near a site near the Roundabout - where the present Church stands. It was after the bad winter of 1947 that Fr Lucey asked Cliff if he would be willing to take care of the vestments and vessels required for Holy Mass to relieve the priest of the necessity of carrying them on his back each week, especially during inclement weather. Remember at this time the Priest had to cycle from Filton. Eventually Fr. Lucey bought a car (but Fr Barry long remained a familiar figure on his motor-bike!) Saturdays would find Cliff cycling to Filton to collect the wine, hosts and copies of the Universe for the weekly Mass so that all would be ready for the arrival of the Priest, who then simply had to vest.

By Teresa Hinchey RIP

 


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