The parish of St Mary, Highfield Street, was for many years a well-known Liverpool city Catholic parish serving a large inner-city congregation, but also serving a number of local officer workers with daily Mass at 1.05pm. However, with a falling congregation as a result of rehousing and the retirement of the then parish priest, Father Michael Gaine, the church was closed in 2000, leaving office workers without their lunchtime Mass.
Saint Mary’s had, some years previously, formed an ecumenical covenant with the nearby Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas – Liverpool Parish Church – and the Bishop of Liverpool kindly gave permission for a Catholic Mass to be celebrated there every Friday at 1.05pm.
The first Mass was held in 2000, celebrated by Father Stephen Pritchard, who was to be the celebrant for the next six years. Bishop Tom Williams then gathered together a number of priests to celebrate the Mass on a rota basis.
Chris Dobbin, secretary of the Friday Mass Group, says, ‘Father Stephen Pritchard will again be the celebrant when the 20th anniversary is celebrated on Friday 6 December. We would like to thank all the priests who have volunteered to celebrate the Mass over the years. A special word of thanks to Father Stephen for his help in establishing the Mass and to Maureen Cooney, Bishop Tom’s secretary, for finding the celebrants and compiling the rota.
‘Our grateful thanks go to the successive rectors of the Parish Church and its congregation for the kindness and hospitality shown to us over 20 years. There can be no greater example of ecumenism in the city of Liverpool.’