Christmas Eve 2021 was a double celebration for the Parish of St Paul, Wood Green, as parishioners gave thanks for 50 years in their current church.
The first Mass celebrated in the new church was Midnight Mass Christmas Eve 1970, and followed by the official opening of the church by Cardinal Heenan on 25th January 1971, the parish's Patronal Feast of the Conversion of St Paul.
Delayed by a year due to the pandemic, the anniversary was marked this year instead, with a Mass celebrated by Bishop John Sherrington. In his homily, Bishop John gave thanks 'not only for the gift of this present church but especially for the gift of God’s holy people who are the community and the parish of Saint Paul’s here in Wood Green'.
He affirmed that 'the building only really becomes a "church" when God’s holy people, the anointed, the beloved of the Lord, the baptised, gather together with others to celebrate the Mass, to pray and to offer their petitions, in joy and in hope, in suffering and in pain, to the Father who hears our prayers.'
The Wood Green Mission was established in 1882 and the first Mass celebrated on 24th December of the same year in the stable of a local house.
In the 140 years of its existence, the parish 'has served countless generations often finding their way in London and wishing to give the best they could to children and families in love, in church and in schools,' he added.
The parish has a long history of communal worship and active faith in the service of those in need in the local community. Under the leadership of current Parish Priest, Fr Perry Sykes, parishioners support a number of projects with their time and resources.
On 23rd January, Cardinal Vincent will visit the parish to celebrate a thanksgiving Mass for these 140 years of Catholic witness and education in Wood Green. During the visit he will bless the newly-installed knife bin, which enables the anonymous surrender of knives, removing these dangerous weapons from the streets.
The current church was designed by John Rochford and Partner of Sheffield. It is part of a single complex that incorporates the parish hall, presbytery and school.
Photo: Fr Perry Sykes and Bishop John Sherrington (credit: Kacper Babiarz)