On 31 August 1869 the then Bishop of Beverley, Robert Cornthwaite, visited Tadcaster to open the new St Joseph’s Church. In 1878 he became the first Bishop of Leeds and on Saturday 31 August 2019 his successor and tenth Bishop of Leeds, Bishop Marcus, went to St Joseph’s to mark what the parish has come to call its ‘sesquicentenary’.
The Bishop led a Mass in honour of St Joseph and during his homily he showed how he had been at pains to provide a link with the events of 150 years ago when he told the congregation that he was wearing the pectoral cross and episcopal ring that had belonged to Bishop Cornthwaite and that he had entered the church carrying Bishop Cornthwaite’s crozier.
The Bishop was welcomed by Parish Priest, Fr John Newman who also hosted the Mayor of Tadcaster and representatives from Churches Together in Tadcaster. Also there were former Parish Priests Canon Sean Gilligan and Fr Michael Walsh.
At the end of the Mass, Bishop Marcus blessed the church’s new Jubilee Stained Glass Window, with the following prayer:
O Lord God, the whole world is filled with the radiance of your glory: bless+ this window which we now dedicate to you for the adornment of this church and the inspiration of all who worship and visit here. Grant that as the light shines through it in many colours, so our lives may show forth the beauty of your manifold gifts of grace.
The window was commissioned as a permanent reminder of the anniversary of the opening of the church in 1869 and is the work of the award-winning artist Helen Whittaker of the Barley Studio at Dunnington, near York. Last year she made the Queen’s Window for Westminster Abbey, to an abstract design by David Hockney. The window in St Joseph’s is in a more traditional style.
The ideas developed within the window had been inspired by themes set out in a brief from the parish: faith and community, through the past, present and future. Fr John said the window was the last of 14 stained glass windows to be created at the church over the past 150 years.
After Mass, and to complete the celebrations, Bishop Marcus joined parishioners and guests for a buffet lunch served in the town’s Riley Smith Hall. Congratulations are due to Fr Newman and his parishioners for organising a wonderful occasion – liturgically and socially – befitting such an important anniversary, and for commissioning a beautiful work of art to commemorate 150 years of St Joseph’s Church, Tadcaster.
- Photos from Saturday’s celebrations are at: https://www.patricksicephotography.co.uk/blog/celebrate-150-years-since-the-opening-of-saint-josephs-church-tadcaster
- A full description of the new window is available here: https://www.stjosephstadcaster.org.uk/jubilee-150/the-empty-window