Home > history, religious > Ushaw Moor Historical Website – Religious History (Catholic)

Ushaw Moor Historical Website – Religious History (Catholic)

Catholic Church

The first St.Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church (Click to VIEW) was established in Ushaw Moor and opened on December 19th 1909. It was a corrugated iron structure and cost £474. Father Beech and his curate, Michael Shelley, were the priests responsible, travelling from Newhouse on horseback or by train, for the first two years. The first baptism took place on January 16th 1910, the infant being named Thomas Nugent, and the first marriage took place on April 15th 1911 between Matthew Rutter and Edith Webster of New Brancepeth.

Attendances at Mass were averaging 320 with 203 at Benediction. In December 1911 Father Shelley came to live in Durham Road where a house was built which accommodated the priest until 1931 when a new presbytery was erected with the new church. On May 23rd 1925 Ushaw Moor became an independent parish consisting of Ushaw Moor, Broompark and New Brancepeth. Bearpark came into the parish in 1935. On June 19th 193O Bishop Thorman laid the foundation stone for a new, church. Most of the ground clearing and digging of foundations was carried out by parishioners. The bell for the new building was given by the people of Ballingarry, County Tipperary. Almost a year later on April 21st 1931, the new St. Joseph’s Church was opened by Bishop Joseph Thorman, with the first marriage ceremony taking place four days later between William Regan and Imelda Cairns and the first baptism being performed on Eileen Veronica Illand on April 26th.

After seven years the church was free of debt and on 17th May 1938 Bishop McCormack performed the ceremony of consecration.

The following year, as a result of war being declared, children from high risk areas were evacuated and St. Joseph’s welcomed children from St. Wilfred’s, Gateshead and St. Philip’s, Dunston. At the evacuation of the troops from Dunkirk the school and hall were taken over to accommodate the soldiers.

On April 22nd 1946 Michael Shelley, the well-loved parish priest, died. A short while previously he had been created a canon of the diocese. His thirty-seven years of dedication having seen many changes in the mining community who were greatly influenced by his presence.

Father Whitaker succeeded Canon Shelley and under his guidance the Sanctuary was altered in 1955. Shortly after it’s completion he died on April 7th, 1956. The third parish priest to be appointed was Father L.V. Thompson.

A new hall was built on the foundations of the old church and was opened on 21st July 1979.

Paul Clough o^o

via Ushaw Moor Historical Website – Religious History.

  1. frank clarke
    November 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    a very well researched and wellpresented article

  2. Alf Rothwell
    November 29, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    I can remember when Father Thompson raced his pigeons in Ushaw Moor Homing Society.

  3. Richard Purdom
    November 29, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Father Thompson could be an irascible old s** but I liked him. I was an alter server for a few years and I loved it when he stopped midway through Midnight Mass to eject some drunks. I thought it was a marvellous demonstration of how turning the other cheek need not mean being weak.

  4. noodles
    December 20, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I can remember Canon Michael Shelley and I also remember his funeral. There were two cuates also at St. Josephs at this time. Fr. Shelley was originally at Newhouse in Esh Winning and travelled down to Ushaw Moor by pony and trap. I can remember the trap still being in a garage at the rear of the Church whilst I was at school. My family were all baptised at St. Josephs and my parents and two of my brothers were buried from the Church so there are many personal memories for me in this article. There is a photo of the “Old Church” as it was known in the Photo Gallery of this web site. This building was used as the Dinner Hall when I was at school and it was also used for social events and a Youth Club which was ran by Tommy Ryans from Flass Avenue who weas the father of Patsy Ryans. The Catholic Club now stands on the site of the old church. We had a strong Lancashire presence in the Parish at one time. Fr Oswald Whittaker the Parish Priest and Miss Jenny Unsworth our Head Teacher both hailed from that County.

    The first time I stayed up after midnight was the first time I attended Midnight Mass. I can still remember this occasion vividly. My sister Mary was in the choir and I felt I had achieved a milestone in life by attending Midnight Mass. As we walked home to Victoria Court it was freezing and the stars shone brightly in a clear sky. Light pollution has killed the pleasure of beautiful starry nights.

    I am sitting here reminiscing about times long ago on this dark winters afternoon. It is nice to rekindle memories but you must also look to the future also so I will look forward to Spring 2012.

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