President Kennedy once said that ‘We celebrate the past to awaken the future’.
That was undoubtedly the theme of an historic day in the life of the Catholic Church in Bradford when Bishop Marcus performed the official re-opening of St Patrick’s Church on Saturday 5 October.
Built in 1853 it is the oldest Catholic church in the city and a few years back seemed destined for closure such was its state of disrepair. But two things happened to make Saturday’s events possible: Bishop Marcus’ own commitment to establishing a centre for evangelisation and of service to the poor in Bradford and the arrival in the city of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, enabling this Mission Church to become once again a place of prayer and worship and a place of outreach and of hospitality for all.
The Bishop paid tribute to the long history of St Patrick’s, the priests who had served there in the past and the people for whom it had been their family’s spiritual home over many generations. But he emphasised that the re-opening and the concelebrated Mass were about the future and the important role envisaged for the church in the life of the Catholic community and the city of Bradford. Members of that same community turned out in force and a large congregation filled the church to take part in the Mass and then afterwards to enjoy the kind of hospitality for which the Friars are renowned. It was an occasion to share memories of times past, to thank all those whose support had made the restoration and re-opening of St Patrick’s possible, and to look ahead to the mission that the church seeks to fulfil in the years ahead.
For many in the congregation their attachment to St Patrick’s is deeply personal and goes back a very long way – there were some in the church on Saturday who had been baptised there over ninety years ago. On the sanctuary the Bishop had a special greeting for Fr Lawrie Lister who was baptised there in 1932, made his First Holy Communion there and had been Confirmed there; and it was also at St Patrick’s that he said his first Mass sixty years ago following his ordination in July 1959.
It is Bishop Marcus’ hope that with the on-going support of the Catholic community and other friends St Patrick’s Mission Church will be a bright light in the city of Bradford and a place where ‘many will encounter the radiant Face of Christ’.
Photographs from the re-opening are available at https://www.patricksicephotography.co.uk/blog/re-opening-of-st-patricks-bradford
For more information about St Patrick’s Mission Church go to https://www.stpatricksmission.co.uk/