WYTHENSHAWE'S CATHOLIC COMMUNITY HISTORY
In 2002, Wythenshawe became the first area in Shrewsbury Diocese to develop a Team Ministry approach to serving the needs of the Catholic community in the area. The Wythenshawe Team Ministry includes all the members of the Church in Wythenshawe; lay people, religious and clergy. The Team also has an Administrator. The key aim of Team Ministry is to move away from a narrow parochial approach, to a broader, collaborative one, with churches working together and sharing resources, to strengthen the spiritual, pastoral and social development of the Catholic Church in Wythenshawe.
Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish:
Saint Anthony's. Saint Elizabeth's, Saints John Fisher and Thomas More
Saints John Fisher and Thomas More
When Wythenshawe was being built, Fr Coleman established a Mass centre in 1933. For a time Mass was celebrated in Sharston Cafe. The Catholic Martyrs Saints John Fisher and Thomas More had been newly canonised. This suggested the dedication of the new church on Woodhouse Lane, which opened in 1936. This was the Mother Church for Wythenshawe. St. John's Primary School is still on the site in Benchill. Sadly as the Diocese reviewed properties, the decision was made to pull down the church. Bishop Brian Noble made provision for the St John's community to celebrate Mass at St. Luke's Church of England church in Benchill.
St Anthony’s Church
As Wythenshawe continued to grow and expand, St Anthony’s Church was opened on 3rd November 1960, but Mass had been celebrated on the site since 1951, originally in a ‘Green Hut.’ The Nissan Hut was erected in 1951 with the first Mass offered on 15th April of the same year. The hut was the first building to be erected in Woodhouse Park, and as well as being a Mass Centre, it was also the hub of the local community. Mass was transferred to the hall of a newly built primary school on 30th August 1954. The hut was demolished in October 1960, its final use was for storage and a works canteen for those building the Church we have today. St Anthony’s Church is one of the largest in the Shrewsbury Diocese and was used for the Ordinations of Bishop Brian Noble in 1995 and Bishop Mark Davies in 2010. In 2020 St Anthony's celebrated it's Golden Jubilee.
After the Peel Hall estate was developed, St. Elizabeth's was carved out of the Benchill Parish in 1965. The main hall of All Hallows High School was used for Mass. A new church building was formally opened on 6th July 1974.
St. Hilda & St. Aidan’s Parish
In 1904 Shrewsbury Diocese purchased a non-Catholic chapel on Kenworthy Lane in Northenden, which had originally been built three years previously for private use. The chapel became St Hilda’s Catholic Church and was officially opened and blessed on Sunday 19th June 1904 by Bishop Allen. The Church was to serve the Catholic community for the next 66 years.
A New Catholic School
From the 1930’s, Catholics living in Northern Moor would walk to St Hilda’s Church for Mass. This happened for many years until a Catholic Primary School was built in Northern Moor. The foundation stone for the school was laid by Bishop Moriarty on 23rd April 1938. This school was originally called St Hilda’s, but was renamed St Aidan’s in 1945 when Bishop Moriarty established a new parish - St Aidan’s, formed from St Hilda’s, with plans to build a new church in the area. Before St Aidan’s Church was built however, the school was used for worship by Catholics in Northern Moor and Brooklands, with the hall being used for Mass, and the Head teacher’s room and staff room being used as the sacristy and confessional respectively.
St Aidan’s Catholic Church in Northern Moor was officially opened and blessed in October 1955 by the Vicar General, the Right Rev. Maurice Provost Curran. The church and the school still serve the community today. The present-day Church of St Hilda opened with the first Mass on the 19th June 1970. The Church was built to replace the original chapel.
In April 2006, reflecting our changing times, the separate parishes of St Hilda’s and St Aidan’s became one parish. St. Aidan’s Church became a Mass Centre and part of the church was transformed into a community space, which is home to the Catholic Children’s Society in the area. The history of the Catholic community of Brooklands, Northern Moor and Northenden continues to be intertwined today, as it had been in the 1930’s. St. Hilda and St Aidan’s Parish, alongside St. Aidan’s School, continues to bear witness to our faith in a changed world, but with the same spirit of dynamism which drove our founders over one hundred years ago.
Sacred Heart & Saint Peter’s
The Parish of Sacred Heart & St Peter was first established in November 1946 and was dedicated to the Apostle Peter. Sunday Mass was celebrated in the Royal Oak Hotel, off Altrincham Road. Within a couple of months however, Mass had been transferred to the Royal Oak Infant School. Christmas Mass was appropriately celebrated in the nearby barn at Mayer’s farm.
Bishop Murphy laid the foundation stone of the church school (the present Sacred Heart Primary School) in Floatshall Rd in 1949 and it opened in 1951. In 1953, a new church was opened in Firbank Road, Newall Green, along with St Peter’s Primary School & St Paul’s Secondary School. Due to the rapid expanse of Wythenshawe, a new parish was created in Baguley in 1967. The new parish of Sacred Heart was placed in the care of the Sacred
Heart Fathers (SCJ) and Mass was celebrated in the primary School until the present church was opened in 1973.
In 1994 the Sacred Heart Fathers left the Parish and it returned to the care of the Shrewsbury Diocese. Due to a decline in Mass attendance and rising financial costs, the decision was made to close St Peter’s in August 2003 and so the two parishes, that had formally been one, found themselves reunited under the title of Sacred Heart & St Peter. This is now a vibrant Parish, with two successful primary schools, serving the people of Baguley & Newall Green.