The parish community of Our Lady and St Philomena began its Golden Jubilee celebration year with a Mass of thanksgiving led by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP, assisted by the present Parish Priest Father John Hindley together with priests who had served in the parish and deanery priests who have remained great friends of the parish.
The church building of St Philomena in the heart of Sparrow Hall, Fazakerley officially opened its doors on 19 December 1971 with Mass celebrated by Archbishop Beck and the then serving Parish Priest Father Pownall.
The church was built to replace the existing, much smaller church opposite, which later became the parish club. The Stations of the Cross are the original ones from the old church, as is the baptismal font. The Stations were refurbished by a generous parishioner for the Golden Jubilee.
People of the parish, led by Father Pownall raised funds towards the building of the church by holding raffles, bingo and sale of works. One parishioner recalls going around house to house selling tickets with her mum. So large was the Catholic community at the time that tickets to the opening Mass had to be limited to one per family with other family members having to wait to attend a later Mass at 6.00 pm celebrated by the assistant priest, Father O’Donohue. Father Pownall, the driving force behind the building of the church retired soon after it opened – his legacy being the church of St Philomena.
St Philomena’s parish has always had a reputation of being friendly and welcoming. A community that has prayed together, pulled together, worked together and cared for each other. In 2006 when the neighbouring church of Our Lady of Sorrows closed, St Philomena’s opened its heart to its new parishioners and became the parish of Our Lady and St. Philomena. The statue of the Holy Family standing proud in one part of the church was brought from Our Lady of Sorrows when it closed; the Crucifix which hangs over the back door was rescued from St Mary’s Highfield Street and the statue of Our Lady came from the Cenacle on Lance Lane when the old convent closed – they are a remaining history of bygone communities.
The Mass of Thanksgiving was emotional and uplifting; from the beauty of the altar and the church to the singing of the schoolchildren. This will be a year to celebrate 50 wonderful years of a great parish. To celebrate the people, priests, religious, schools, teachers and children who have made the community what it is and what it will continue to be.
The celebrations will continue throughout the year and will include fundraising events to spruce up the decor with some new carpets, as well as lots of social activities and spiritual events – fingers crossed and Covid permitting. The Archbishop gave the invitation to look forward with hope and so here’s to the next 50 years.