By Fr Paul Burch, Parish Priest

Parishioners and clergy past and present, of all ages, gathered in united praise and thanksgiving on Tuesday 2 July in the church of The Precious Blood and All Souls in Coventry to celebrate the centenary of one of Coventry’s oldest Catholic churches. 

It was standing room only in church for the Mass and very cosy in the parish room afterwards for a splendid celebratory buffet!

Archbishop Bernard Longley offered a beautiful Solemn Votive Mass of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ to begin a year-long celebration of 100 years of Catholic worship, life and witness at All Souls (as our church is commonly known) which serves the areas of Earlsdon, Chapelfields and Whoberley.

It was a real joy that as well as Fr Paul Burch, parish priest, Fr Tim Boniwell, assistant priest, and priests of Coventry and Nuneaton Deanery, concelebrants included former parish priests, Fr Michael Brandon, Fr Christopher Draycott and Monsignor Mark Crisp. Also concelebrating were Fr Gerard Toman and Fr John Waters, whose vocations to the priesthood began and were nurtured at All Souls. Deacon Paul Rabvukwa, our parish deacon, was joined in the sanctuary by fellow deacons Andy Lansberry and Leo Poole.

Sadly, Abbot Paul Gunter OSB, Abbot of Douai Abbey in Berkshire, who was to represent the English Benedictine Congregation in recognition of the Benedictine foundation of the church and parish, was unable to be present at the last minute, but we look forward to welcoming him later in the year to bless a new statue of Saint Benedict which will stand above the consecration stone of the church.

We were also delighted to welcome friends from other Catholic parishes of the deanery and other local churches to share in our celebrations, as well as our local councillors.

Our singing was led beautifully by a choir which included pupils from All Souls primary school and Bishop Ullathorne secondary school.

The bread and wine were presented to the Archbishop at the offertory by Tia Faller, who recently made her first Holy Communion at All Souls, and parishioner Josie McGrath, who celebrated her 100th birthday in January. Parishioners representing different areas of parish life, including our special needs group, played their part in making the Mass a truly memorable occasion. 

An inspiring and uplifting Mass ended very poignantly with Archbishop Bernard blessing a very fine crucifix which now graces our sanctuary again, around 60 years after it was removed and replaced with a smaller one. We pray that it will stand as a witness to the love of Christ and our redemption in his Most Precious Blood for the next 100 years.

In his homily Archbishop Bernard spoke of the faith and witness of our forebears and encouraged us to take up the task of evangelisation today. This we do in the knowledge that God’s mercy will not fail us, nor leave his work undone. We commit ourselves to being wholly true, wholly faithful, to walk in God’s ways and trust in the Lord. There is Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ still to be proclaimed in 2024, and it’s our duty and our privilege to proclaim it to the people of this part of Coventry.

The church of the Precious Blood and All Souls opened in 1924 and built as a memorial to the dead of the Great War.

The Precious Blood and All Souls

Photo Gallery by Con McHugh

All Souls Centenary Celebration Mass