Bishop Nicholas Hudson made a special visit to Poplar, East London on 6th July 2017 to celebrate Mass at Our Lady and St Joseph’s School to mark 200 years of Catholic education at Wade’s Place, the street which the school is situated on.
This street has seen a lot of change within these last 200 years. The first recorded school here was a boys’ school set up by the parish in 1816 to cope with the huge demand from the increasing Irish immigration attracted to the docks; it had 104 boys crammed into a 16ft room.
The Wade Street site gained a chapel in 1818, and along with it came the creation of the new Parish of St Mary and St Joseph. This served as the parish church until 1856 when a new church was built in Canton Street.
In the following years it was uncovered that in the East End area there were between 1,500-2,000 Catholic children in need of education and only two schools in existence, one being the Wade Street School. Something needed to be done and in 1821 the East London Catholic Institute was created with the aim of improving education in the area. They secured a larger space for the Wade Street School, enabling it to grow, and a separate girls’ school was also opened nearby.
The Faithful Companions of Jesus taught at the school from 1881 until the World War II evacuation in the 1940s; their motto can be found on a dedication stone at the site: A.M.D.G. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam which reads as ‘To the greater glory of God’. Following the war, the Sisters of Mercy replaced them at the school, overseeing various re-builds and the incorporation of the Holy Child School in 1983.
In 2014, the amalgamation of the Holy Family at Wade’s Place and Our Lady’s, Limehouse created the new school as we see it today: Our Lady and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School.
During the Mass to celebrate the historic occasion, Bishop Hudson focused his homily on tradition:
‘Tradition means handing down. In school, teachers hand down the things that they have learned, and the most important facts that they have handed down are all the different things we know about Jesus. Jesus lived about 2,000 years ago, but there have been Catholic schools in Wade’s Place for one tenth of that time. We know so much about Jesus because it has been handed down from one generation to the next.’
The tradition of handing down has been guided by the Holy Spirit, and so Bishop Hudson led a round of prayers in thanks for this.
Pictured above are Bishop Nicholas Hudson and Headmaster Patrick Devereux