St George and St Martin in Birches Head has taken centre stage to celebrate its 90th anniversary.

The faithful gathered to mark the occasion on Monday 3 December, and the date had been specifically chosen to coincide with the Feast Day of St Francis Xavier, as the mass also included the dedication of the new altar as it is his relic that rests beneath.

The gathering followed the recent Celebration Mass for the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the parish at Our Lady and St Benedict’s in Abbey Hulton.

Both parishes are looked after by Fr Adrian MacNamara, who is also celebrating his 25th anniversary of his ordination to the Priesthood.

The Mass at St George and St Martin was celebrated by the Most Reverend Archbishop Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, and concelebrated by Canon John Gilbert, Parish Priest of St Gregory’s, Longton, and Dean of North Staffordshire; Fr Dominic Cosslett, Archbishop Bernard’s Secretary; Fr George Ettuparayil of Our Lady and St Peter in Chains, Stoke; Fr Michael Glover of St Teresa of the Child Jesus in Trent Vale and Fr Adrian.

The dedication of an altar is not often seen by many people but it consists of four main parts.

Firstly, it is anointed with Chrism making the altar a symbol of Christ, who as we know is 'The Anointed One' who sacrificed his life for the salvation of us all.

The second stage involves incense being burned on the altar signifying Christ's sacrifice for us and to also signify that our prayers rise up to God.

The altar is then covered, indicating that it is for Eucharistic sacrifice around which priests will gather to celebrate the memorial of Christ's death and resurrection and to take part in His supper. The dressing of the altar signifies that it is the Lord's table at which we will all meet to be refreshed by the body and blood of Christ.

The final stage involves lighting up the altar and the church to remind us that Christ is a light to enlighten the nations.

At the end of the Mass Fr Adrian was presented with a number of gifts from parishioners, and all enjoyed a buffet.

Photo Gallery by Mark Lear

click here