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Ushaw Moor Historical Website – Religious History (Catholic)

November 23, 2011 4 comments

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.

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