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Celebrating 60 years at St Mary Magdalen

by Fr Gladstone Liddle

On Sunday, 6th May Cardinal Vincent celebrated Mass at
St Mary Magdalen Church, Whetstone to mark the 60th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the present church by Cardinal William Godfrey in 1958.

The parish had been founded in 1926, although in modern times Mass had been celebrated from the 1870s, first in a private house, then after the First World War over a bakery, in the Black Bull Inn and eventually in a chapel of ease built in Athenaeum Road in 1924. In 1926 the parish was entrusted to the care of the Fathers of Sion who acquired land and built a larger temporary church. Plans were drawn up for a permanent church in red brick, Romanesque style with grand bell tower. Construction was due to start in October 1939, but was shelved with outbreak of war.

After the war, in 1957 work began on the new church but with a much reduced budget and design. The church was opened in October 1958 for public worship and consecrated on 20th June 1979 by Cardinal Basil Hume.

The celebration included the blessing of a commemorative plaque to the founding pastors, the Fathers of Sion and especially Fr Jeremiah Ryan in whose time the church was built. Several priests in association with the parish joined us in the celebration including: Fr Philip Law, previous Parish Priest, Fr Nigel Woolen and Fr Michael Thomas (both vocations from the parish), Fr Gerry McFlynn and Fr Carlo Bonelli, a Consolata Missionary.

To continue the celebrations this year, a garden is being created on the grounds of the church as a quiet space commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War.

In thanks to God for his past blessings and pray that he will bless us with peace in the years to come.

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