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St Joseph's


Early History of the Parish

In the May of 1960 the parishioners of St Joseph's celebrated the Golden Jubilee of their Church.  It was on May 1st, 1910, that the Church was officially opened and the first Mass offered.  The foundation stone had been laid the previous year on June 20th, by Archbishop Whiteside.  The Chorley Guardian, reporting this event said:  "A tremendous crowd of people assembled in Harpers Lane, where, amid all the ceremonial of the Roman Catholic Church, the foundation stone of the new church was laid.  Prior to the actual ceremony a procession was formed in Market Street and a total of three thousand walked.  Assisting at the ceremony were the Very Reverend Dean Barry (Sacred Heart, Chorley), Fr T Smith (Anderton), Fr J Miller (Ince), Fr G Holden (South Hill), Fr T Keeley (Euxton), Fr T S Crank (St Mary's), Fr T Clarkson (Coppull), Fr W Motherway (Sacred Heart) and Fr H Horrabin (St Mary's)."


The Archbishop told the assembled crowd that the ceremony they were watching that day had not been seen in Chorley for fifteen years, when the foundation stone of Sacred Heart Church was laid.


Fr Motherway, a curate at Sacred Heart, was appointed the first Parish Priest of St Joseph's.  He loved the Church and he is still remembered with love and reverence by the older members of the parish.  He often referred to his Church as "The Stable of Bethlehem", because of its simplicity and poverty.  Although he was often short of money he was compensated by the loyalty of his parishioners and together they succeeded in laying the foundations of what is today a flourishing parish.


After much opposition from local inhabitants, and a public inquiry in the Town Hall to establish the need of a Catholic School in this district, St Joseph's School was built in Railway Road and opened in August, 1914, just as World War I broke out.  As one would expect, great difficulty was experienced in furnishing it.  Sister Marie Winefride from the Covent, Gillibrand Hall, became the first Headmistress.  She held the position for thirty-two years and under her wise guidance the school became not only a centre of learning and piety, but a happy home for teachers and pupils alike.  She retired in 1946.


Fr Motherway died in 1918 and was succeeded by Father Dowling, afterwards Dean Dowling.


The Lady Chapel with its beautiful windows of St Joachim and St Anne, the parents of Our Blessed Lady, was built as a memorial to Fr Motherway.  A new pulpit and altar-rails, carved in oak, were also added.  The carvings on the pulpit depict the Good Shepherd, St Luke (Patron Saint of Physicians - Chorley Hospital is within the parish), St Gregory (the Mother Church of the town), and St Patrick (an Irish Tradition within the parish).


When the Church celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 1935, Dean Dowling was responsible for enlarging the sanctuary to its present proportions, and fitting two beautiful stained glass windows, one on each side of the Altar.  Our Lady and the Child and St Joseph, Protector of the Universal Church.


Dean Dowling died in 1937 and was succeeded by Dr Morgan.  Oak panelling was fitted round the walls of the sanctuary in memory of the Dean.  The old Stations of the Cross were replaced by new ones, carved in wood by Italian craftsmen who carved all the original woodwork in the Church - Ferdinando Stuflesser, Ortisei, Italy.  These carvings are greatly admired by parishioners and much admired by visitors.  They are a constant reminder to all of us of our Patron, St Joseph the Carpenter.  Later, stained glass windows were fitted in the Lady Chapel transept, depicting the five Joyful mysteries of the Rosary.


Dr Morgan was succeeded in 1940 by Fr Caldwell.  In 1950 a new porch was built on to the original Church, and the seating was re-arranged resulting in a middle aisle and increased accommodation.  A side porch was added to facilitate exit.  It was about this time that the wooden Altar was replaced by a stone one.


Some time later stained glass windows, depicting the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, were fitted over the confessionals, in the Sacred Heart transept.  More recently the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, recalling the principal sufferings of Christ, were introduced into the body of the Church.  With the completion of these, the Church now has all Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary in stained glass.  A large stained glass window of the Holy Family now replaced the old south window in the choir, and three medallion windows adorn what was the baptistry:  The expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden; the Baptism of Our Lord and Our Lord explaining the necessity of Baptism to Nicodemus.


Liverpool R.C. Archdiocesan Trustees Inc.

Registered Charity No 232709



St Joseph's R C Church

Harpers Lane




Tel: 01257 262713



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