Page 10, 4th June 1954

4th June 1954
Page 10
Page 10, 4th June 1954 — FIRST PARISH CHURCH OF ST. PIUS X

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Locations: Rome, Portsmouth, Oxford


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Garrison has one too

WITHIN an hour of the canonisation of St. Pius X Y V in St. Peter's Square on Saturday evening, Bishop King of Portsmouth walked in procession to a small, single-storey, red-brick building at Wootton on the outskirts of modern Oxford to dedicate the first parish church in the world to the new saint.

On the following day-about the time the Canonisation Mass was being celebrated in St. Peter's -the second church in England to be named after St. Pius was blessed, and the Principal Army Chaplain, Fr. Alfred E. S. Blount, presided and preached at the first Mass in the newly dedicated Garrison Church of Nesscliff, Shropshire.

Bishop King, who was present in St. Peter's as a student when St. Pius was crowned Pope, told THE CernoLIC HERALD:

I was delighted'

. "It was a wonderful little ceremony at Wootton. and I was delighted and inspired by the response of the people, and especially the children.

"The procession from 'The Bystander Inn'-which has been the local Mass-centre for a long time past-to the new church was quite magnificent in its own unpretentious way.

"Catholics came from a wide area around, and I was pleased to learn afterwards that many non-Catholics were in the big crowds that watched the ceremony."

The church, which stands on the main road from Abingdon to Cumnor, was peeked to the doors, and those who had to stand stretched out from the porch into the evening air.

At -The Bystander Inn" across the street the Bishop vested. Accompanied by Canon Bernard Morris, of St. Mary's, East Hendred, Fr. Cornelius Hickey, of St. Thomas More's, Boars Hill, and Fr. John Crozier, first parish priest of the new Church of St. Pius, Bishop King sprinkled the outside and inside walls of the building with holy water.

Other priests in the proceesion were the Bishop's secretary, Fr, Desmond Close. Fr. James Wixtcd, of Wantage, Fr. Abraham Jacob, of Wallingford, Fr. William Kearney and Fr. David Freeman.

Children's day One of the great joys of the Bishop -as he said afterwards-was to see a number of school children receive their first Holy Communion at the evening Mass on the canonisation day of the very Pope who had initiated the rule enabling young boys and girls to approach the altar.

After the evening Mass, the Bishop also confirmed several children.

Bishop King, in a short address at the Mass, praised the work of Fr. Hickey, who for months past had been celebrating Mass on Sundays in "The Bystander Inn" and "The Bear and Ragged Staff" at Cumnor.

Referring generally to Miss in public houses, the Bishop said: "The relationship between the Church and Landlords is no shock to Catholics. For it is an association which goes right back to the penal days, when priests were safer in inns than anywhere else as a result of a gentleman's agreement between the publican and the priest."

It was because of a reference to St. Pius X in the Bishop's Lenten pastoral that the church was dedicated to the new saint. Fr. Crozier has already explained how it happened:

What name ?

"When the church was nearly cornPleied, the question of a name was discussed.' The congregation Wanted a modern saint.

"The clue was found in the Lenten letter of our own Bishop.

"In it His Lordship mentioned that as a student in Rome he was present in the Basilica of St. Peter when Pius X was Crowned Pope.

"It was subsequently learned that when Bishop King was secretary to his predecessor (Bishop Cotter) his was present with the Bishop during his ad limina visit in 1912 and was received in audience by Pope Pius X.

'The people were also mindful that their Father in Christ will celebrate the golden jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood this year."

, Apart from helping to choose the name of their own parish church. the small Catholic population of Wootton are also proud of their own efforts in preparing for last Saturday's dedication ceremony.

They are equally proud of the physical work done by boys of the Salesian College, Cowley, who prepared and cleared the site of the church.

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