The end of June saw the high point of celebrations to mark the anniversaries of the opening of two churches in Wigan in 1819: St Mary’s and St John’s are both on Standishgate within 200 yards of each other. They opened separately within months in 1819: St Mary’s was a new parish administered by secular clergy while St John’s was built as a Jesuit church. The Jesuits served in the town from the 18th century and kept a presence in the parish until the early 1930s.
The Metropolitan Cathedral Choir gave a choral concert at St John’s on Friday 21 June, and the following Sunday morning Archbishop Malcolm celebrated the 9am Mass at St Mary’s and the 11am Mass at St John’s. Invited clergy who attended included Father Damian Howard SJ, Provincial of the Jesuits, and local priests who had served in either parish or who had close family ties.
In his homily the Archbishop paid tribute to the clergy and parishioners of the past who had developed and maintained a strong and faithful Catholic presence in the town; following the Masses 200 parishioners and friends enjoyed a celebration in St Mary’s parish centre.
There will be a sung Requiem Mass in November for all deceased clergy, parishioners and family members, before the year-long celebrations end on the feast of St John in December.