The weekend of 18 and 19 November was a very special one in the life of the Castleford Parish of St Joseph. To complete the substantial work done on the sanctuary, Bishop Marcus dedicated the new altar.
Fr John Aveyard who is Provost and Chancellor of the Diocese as well as St Joseph’s Parish Priest at St Joseph’s welcomed the Bishop and writes an explanation of the latest re-ordering of the sanctuary and the role of the Bishop in its dedication in the St Joseph’s Parish Bulletin:
‘…Older parishioners will remember the other phases that the church, and especially the sanctuary, has gone through. I believe that it is now more in line with the mind of the Church on sacred spaces and the celebration of the liturgy. That is not to say that previous attempts were bad in themselves but we now have more experience of re-ordering churches. Sometimes, I think, churches were re-ordered too soon and without reading the Church’s documents, especially those of Vatican Council II, and without the understanding of liturgical reform, thinking that it was only about “Mass facing the people.” Though that was part of it, it was more to do with opening up the scriptures to people and having a full and active participation in worship by the whole people of God…’
‘It is a great pleasure to welcome our Bishop, Marcus, to our parish for the dedication of the altar. Only a Bishop can perform this ceremony but it is important that it is our Bishop who is here. He is our father in God and a shepherd to the people of God in this part of Yorkshire. As it says in one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council ‘…as it is impossible for the bishop always and everywhere to preside over the whole flock in his church, he must of necessity establish groupings of the faithful; and, among these, parishes, set up locally under a pastor who takes the place of the bishop, are the most important, for in some way they represent the visible Church constituted throughout the world.’ (Sacrosanctum Concilium 42.) In other words the Bishop can’t be everywhere so we have priests who act on his behalf but we are always united to him and, through him, united to every other bishop throughout the world – and most importantly to the Bishop of Rome. Whenever we celebrate the Eucharist on this altar we express and strengthen that communion. On this occasion it is nice to have Bishop Marcus here in person. I don’t know what it is like to be a bishop – and I’m too old to find out – but I do know that they need the support of our prayers. Please pray for Bishop Marcus every day.’
A report on the events of Sunday 19 November from our correspondent
St Joseph’s Church, Castleford was built in 1890-1. The architect was Edward Goldie who designed a church to accommodate 500 worshippers. It is constructed of red brick with stone dressings and slate roofs. The presbytery attached to the northeast of the church was built ten years later in 1901. The interior of this late Victorian church was greatly altered during the 1960s and many of the earlier furnishings were removed. The present reordering of the sanctuary represents a more considered approach to adapting the interior of such a church to the needs of modern liturgy and was designed by Overton Architects.
The works were carried out during 2023 and before they began Provost Aveyard explained the thinking behind the changes. He told parishioners that ‘In 2006 the Bishops of England and Wales published a book called Consecrated for Worship. It was a teaching and policy document for the building and alteration of places of worship. No. 183 of the document says: The relationship between the altar and ambo may be shown by both being made from the same materials and sharing some aspects of design… and at No.127 The chair is a key element in the general design of the sanctuary. It should be considered in relationship to the ambo and altar, and each should be given their own discrete space. The design of the chair may appropriately relate to the design of the ambo and altar… I hope that our reordering suitably corresponds to what the Church says about its buildings’.
After Bishop Marcus had dedicated the altar members of the Union of Catholic Mothers brought up the altar cloth and covered the altar with it. Candles were placed on the altar table and flowers placed in front of the altar. The Bishop then presented Provost Aveyard with a light which he used to light the altar candles.
Everyone present for this impressive and memorable ceremony will testify that Provost Aveyard’s hopes for the reordering of St Joseph’s Church have been wonderfully fulfilled.