THE MEN AND WOMEN of a small Lancashire parish who fifty years ago worked to build their Catholic church have been immortalised in stained glass.
Work was started on St Joseph's in Accrington, Lancashire in 1952. A builder's gang of young men built the church using stones taken from an old bank in Haslingden. Their efforts gave the local community its first Catholic church -. previously the faithful had to worship at Our Lady in Huncoat.
Fifty years later a new stained glass window of St Joseph has been installed in the church. It is dedicated to "The Church Builders".
Fr Martin Saunders, the current parish priest, said it was fitting that the people who laboured to build the church should be remembered: "Both women and men were involved in the evening after work and at weekends. Some of the people still come to Mass on Sunday," he explained. The parish marked the official unveiling of the window with a dedication Mass led by the Dean of Blackburn, Canon Kevin Kenny and a hot-pot supper and party in the parish. Fr Saunders said the window depicted "living men and women and the church itself'.
"Most windows commemorate saints or scholars from hundreds of years ago but this actually commemorates people still living in this area.
"You can go into any pub and find someone who is related or knows someone who helped to build the church. This was a real community project and not just for church goers.
"We celebrated a Mass for the builders and dedicated the window to St Joseph, the patron saint of builders," he said. "Local people of all denominations attended".
The 12ft by 4ft window was designed by Pendle Stained Glass in Padiham and cost £10,000. Parishioners raised the money over five years. with donations and fund-raising.
Mr Jim Harling, 71, was involved in the early stages of the work. He told the Lancashire Evening Standard that he had helped to bui:d the church before he was called up for National Servia He said: "I was onli involved in the very ear, stages and there are not man, of us left now but this window is very nice and will be nit for the relatives of those wit were actively involved."
The window is meant to It representative of the worker but parishioners insist that on of the builders, complete wit dog collar, looks like the fin parish priest and instigator a the building of the church, ii Joseph Stack.
The idea for the windci came from a former paril priest Fr Peter Birmingluo now parish priest at St Mary in Sabden, Blackburn.
He said: "We had a love stained glass window on of side of the church but nothU to balance it ."
"The church will be bea: tiful now."