by Mark Lear

It was a double celebration at Our Lady and St Benedict in Abbey Hulton with the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the parish, and opening of the school, and the 25th anniversary of the parish priest’s ordination to the Priesthood.

On Saturday 22nd September, the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham (considered to be the feast day of the parish), parishioners gathered with Fr Adrian MacNamara to mark these special occasions.

The Mass was co-celebrated by the Very Rev. Canon Michael Neylon (St. Austin's, Stafford); Rev Fr Joseph Thé-Quang Nguyen (St. John the Baptist, Alton); Rev. Fr Dominic Chukka (St.Wulstan's, Wolstanton); Fr Gerardo Fabrizio (Our Lady of the Wayside, Shirley); Fr Declan O'Brien (St Mary Magdalen, Trentham, Australia); and newly appointed Deacon, Marco Egawhary (Venerable English College, Rome).

The church was full, with many having to stand, as the congregation was made not only of those from Our Lady and St Benedict but also from Fr Adrian's other parish (St. George and St. Martin's, Birches Head) along with parishioners from his previous parishes of Our Lady and St Brigid's, Northfield, and Corpus Christi in Coventry.

The celebration began with the Praying of the Rosary and the crowning of the statue of Our Lady of Hulton.

At first sight, the statue looks to be an exact copy of Our Lady of Walsingham, and it's only on further inspection will the eagle-eyed notice that the Child Jesus is held on the opposite side!

Fr Adrian thought it appropriate that he 'treat everyone' to a three-part Homily - supposedly in honour of the 'other holy trinity' of Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish - but he eventually managed to regain focus and keep the football anecdotes to a minimum.

He finished by leading everyone in prayer, asking for the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham for the parish, by giving thanks for the past and looking forward to the future with hope.

At the end of the Mass Fr Adrian was presented with a number of gifts from the parishioners, one of which was a new chasuble from Agatha Ntumnu of Nigeria.

A hog roast and garden party followed and despite the heavy rain this did not dampen spirits - just as well really as both parishes have it all to do again later in the year when they turn their attention to the 90th anniversary of the opening of St George and St Martin in Birches Head.

This Mass, to be celebrated by Archbishop Bernard, will also see the dedication of a new altar which will contain a relic of St. Francis Xavier, hence the chosen date of December 3rd as this is his feast day.

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A little bit of history…

The Foundation Stone for the original church was laid on the 6th October 1937 by Archbishop Williams and was taken from the ruined medieval Hulton Abbey, which was founded almost 800 years ago in 1223 and is dedicated to Our Lady.

On the 18th September, the following year, the date coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the surrender of the Abbey itself, the new church was opened.

The original church still forms part of the school and is next door to the current church which was built in 1962 and consecrated on the 28th May 1966.

Fr Adrian’s ordination took place on the 19th June 1993 at St. Mary and St. Modwen's in Burton- upon-Trent and was conducted by Bishop Terry Brain.