Marist Fathers (Society of Mary), 1925 - 2018
The Parish of Our Lady of Lourdes was founded in 1925 when the Marist Fathers bought the large house – Hop Villa – on Cottingham Road where they opened Marist College, a Catholic secondary school for boys. On the left side of Hop Villa there was a small stable block which was to become the first parish church under their care with the name of Our Lady of Lourdes. In 1957 the new church was built and consecrated under the name of Our Lady of Lourdes and St Peter Chanel. St Peter Chanel, the first Marist martyr, had been canonised in 1954.
The Marist Fathers established the Catholic Chaplaincy for the University of Hull. The chaplaincy was later taken over by the Diocese when Fr Anthony Storey established its base in Newland Park.
Marist College later merged with St Mary’s, a girls’ school run by the Sisters of Mercy, to become St Mary’s College and St Mary’s Sixth Form Centre.
Our parish continues today with the church and parish office and is home to people from a wide variety of backgrounds and nationalities, but, sadly, from 1st August 2018 it will no longer be in the care of the Marist Fathers, but will be transferred to the care of the Diocese of Middlesbrough.
Diocese of Middlesbrough, 2018 -
Pastoral Letter of Terence Patrick Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough on Third Sunday of Lent 2018
Dear Father Hanrahan, dear Brothers and Sisters in the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes and St Peter Chanel,
I write to you in the wake of hearing, as you also heard, of the departure of Marist Fathers from active parish ministry in the diocese, and therefore from your own parish. Long before I came to Middlesbrough I had heard of the great work that the Marist Fathers had and were doing in the diocese. I was in Seminary with students who had been educated by them. I came from the diocese of Salford and I started off as a priest in the Blackburn area, so once again I knew of the great work that the Marist Fathers were doing. So I would like to express my thanks for everything that they have contributed to the life and mission of the diocese of Middlesbrough over the years. I am very grateful to them and I am sure that I speak on behalf of the priests and people of our diocese as well, I am very happy that they will still have a presence in the diocese and will be able to supply from time to time in various parishes.
When Father Hanrahan told me he was going to announce the news to you all, I asked him to make sure to stress the shortage of clergy in this diocese and the fact that there was no “slack” in the system. You will be more aware than most that the lastly priestly ordination was one of your own, Father Philip Cunnah. On all my visitations around the diocese I have spoken of the shortage over and over again, hoping that by prayer and encouragement, we, as a diocese, would foster more vocations to the priesthood and the religious life so that our existing communities could be well cared for. After ten years as your bishop I have to say that this has not borne fruit as yet. I still believe Jesus’ instructions that we must ask the Lord of the Harvest to send labourers into the Harvest and I still hold fast to the knowledge that we are all held securely in the father’s providential love and care for us. So, although we should be concerned we should not lack faith, nor should anxiety rob us of hope.
After much thought and prayer I have asked Father William Massie to take pastoral charge of your parish when the Marists, in the person of Father Hanrahan, leave here in the summer. However, Father Massie has many other roles to fulfil both locally and on behalf of the diocese. Also, in the not too distant future, strategic decisions must be made about the pastoral care needed for other parish communities in Hull and, indeed, throughout the diocese. This will mean that one priest will be looking after more than one Church and some of the Churches that we already have will have to be merged, twinned or even closed. So the appointment of Father Massie should not be interpreted as “business as usual” ! The Parish of Our Lady and St Peter Chanel cannot stand alone. We are in this together.
In order to ensure that your parish is cared for while recognising that Father Massie already has pastoral commitments and perhaps more to come in the future, it is vital that everyone understands that they have a role to play and all must step up to the plate. St Paul reminds us:
There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. We were all baptised by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. You are the body of Christ. Each of you is part of it. (1 Cor 12. 12-14,27)
I believe that you will work together as one body for the good of all, not just in this parish, but in the local area and throughout the diocese. In other parishes we have a good track record of the diocese taking back pastoral care from religious congregations. I have no doubt that this will be the case here also.
You are in my prayers as you move forward, and I ask you to remember the Marist Congregation, especially in the person of Father Hanrahan. Pray also for Father Massie and for the people, priests, deacons and bishop of this diocese, as we all seek to discern God’s will for us all.
Yours in blessed hope
Bishop of MIddlesbrough