Among the many ways that Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Croxteth, celebrated its Golden Jubilee on Thursday 31 May was to dedicate its new peace garden to Our Lady herself.
After a special evening Mass, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon led a procession to the outside grotto with parish priest Father Kenny Hyde and parishioners. As those gathered sang the traditional Marian hymn 'Bring Flowers of the Rarest', members of the congregation – including clergy who had served at the 50-year-old church and parish (now merged with St Swithin's), founder members and Salesian sisters – laid flowers in the beautiful prayer space.
Archbishop George Andrew Beck had opened the church on 31 May 1968, feast of the Queenship of Our Blessed Lady, and the parish wanted to mark the milestone anniversary with joy and devotion. It certainly gave parishioners an opportunity to look back and reflect, and in his homily Archbishop Malcolm spoke of the dedicated witness of Christ lived out in the church for five decades, and thanked the faith community for their strength of Christian love and adoration of the Eucharist.
Over the past half-century Our Lady Queen of Martyrs has welcomed various priests and deacons, and present at the Mass were Bishop Tom Williams, Bishop Vincent Malone and Bishop John Rawsthorne who served as priest in Croxteth for a year. Also concelebrating were former parish priests Father Sean O'Connor, Father Philip Inch, Father Malcolm Prince, Father Chris Fallon and Father Nick Wilde. Monsignor John Butchard , originally from St Swithin's , was present too, while Monsignor John Furnival, Father Peter Morgan and Father Andrew Unsworth sent good wishes.
Parish Deacon Malcolm Fletcher and Chris Housbey – subsequently ordained deacon in June – also celebrated the joyous occasion. With the many altar servers they planted jubilee roses in the garden in honour of Our Lady and the parish birthday. Salesian sisters, who the previous week had provided parishioners with prayer, prosecco and pasta, joined in the festivities.
Our Lady Queen of Martyrs' celebrations will continue for several months, incorporating too the Archdiocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes in July. Father Kenny Hyde said: 'It's a privilege to be parish priest of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs and St Swithin. I give thanks daily for the wonderful people who continuously surprise me with their gifts, hard work, enthusiasm, warmth, friendliness and devotion. Thanks to the parish council and all who have helped make the anniversary so special.'