Building a Church

To build a new church is some undertaking. To move from an important existing Church to a new one is a courageous and ambitious project. The people of St. Patrick’s Leeds are to be congratulated for their faith in this project.

There was a need for change. Financially we could not continue to support the buildings of the Church, Presbytery, Social Club and Parochial Hall.

At St. Patrick’s “The Sign We Give” was something of a triumphal Church in what in truth is a marginal Church today. The demography of the parish had changed considerably and people had moved from the inner-city to the outskirts of Leeds. This large and beautiful Church in the Diocese was not affordable for the faithful of the parish. The problem had to be faced. The priests and parish sister of the parish reflected that we needed a transplant. We explored the possibilities of obtaining a new site for a Church and accommodation to meet our pastoral needs.

Fr. Creasey reflected that when he was a student at the English College in Rome, Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council. Students at that time were surprised to discover that the first document from the Council was on the Liturgy. The Liturgy was seen as the heart of the life of the Church. The Catholic Church has been trying to discern all the insights ever since. Respect should be given to the liturgical thinking of the Catholic Church in building a new Church.

A Case Conference was held with the Bishop, his advisors, the priests of St Patrick’s parish (Fr. Willis, Fr. Creasey and Fr. Brown) and our Parish sister – Sister Pauline. The Bishop agreed to write a letter to St. Patrick’s parishioners suggesting building a new Church and instructed Fr. Willis to formally undertake a consultation with the parishioners.

The prospect of leaving our Church filled us with dismay. Reading out the Bishop’s letter at all Masses was difficult. It was an understandable shock to the people. We had a frank exchange of views in a parish meeting in the Church the following Monday evening. A month of consultation took place. To our joy, 93% of parishioners supported the proposals for change. We are sad to leave but pragmatic enough to realise that the parish has to move to be both financially viable and pastorally helpful. The Council of Priests was consulted and gave their approval. It was suggested that we explore the site adjacent to St. Patrick’s Primary School, identified by Canon Farrell as a suitable location for a new Church several years before. The architect accepted its suitability and plans commenced.

Mgr Boylan (Episcopal Vicar for Worship) addressed us at a parish meeting, explaining the modern liturgical principles in building a new Church. Armed with liturgical ideas, parishioners took a coach trip one Saturday to visit new Churches in the Diocese, accompanied by the Architect and Property Administrator. We visited S. Phillip’s Middleton, St Paul’s Alwoodley and St Benedict’s Garforth. It was a helpful experience and clarified our thinking.

Plans were drawn and parishioners came to an Open Meeting in the Church one evening to meet the architect. The cost of these plans proved too expensive for the Diocese to approve so they had to be somewhat modified. On reflection this was the intervention of the Holy Spirit.

Monsignor McGuire V.G cut the first sod of the new Church in October 2000. On a bitterly cold morning in February 2001 Bishop Konstant laid and blessed the Foundation Stone. Parishioners turned out in force.

We welcome the Bishop today to celebrate the First Mass in our new Church. We rejoice that as a parish we have grown together in the building of this Church.