Our Parish Memories 1962 - 2012
Following the Second World War, Queen's Park estate was developed to accommodate an expanding population. Many of the residents were demobbed soldiers and evacuees from Liverpool, who together with Irish, Polish and Italian families, decided to settle here. It was estimated that over nine hundred Catholics lived on the estate, almost all young families.
Records, dating back to August 1953, indicate that a Church was being considered at that time. Records from December 1957 refer to a church, convent, school and presbytery. By January 1958, plans were submitted by Diocesan Architects Patrick & White, in which the altar could be cut off from the main body of the church by a decorative shutter. There would be a connecting corridor to the Convent and the Sacristy would be placed in this corridor. The final plan however included only the Church and hall with a school to follow shortly after.
Before St. Anne's was actually built, Mass was celebrated in Kingsley Circle Community Centre. Sisters Norbert and Josephine, armed with hymn books, came along with the priest to support the children who attended St. Mary's school. Mass was said on a stage and four hymns were played on the old piano.
The land acquired for St. Anne's Church was a landfill site. Fr. James O'Donoghue, a former Irish policeman, was appointed Parish Priest. Hence much of the £30.000 needed to build the Church, came from Ireland.
The newly formed parishioners worked with tremendous enthusiasm to raise funds for the building of their Church. They began by forming a Thrift Club. Mrs. Corcoran and Mrs. Lennon collected ls 6p. a week on a Friday night, while Pat Lennon babysat the children. The parishioners' names and the amount they paid were recorded in a little book. Others went around the estate collecting old newspapers, making them into bundles, and selling them by weight to further raise funds. School children, in their classes upstairs in St. Mary's Institute, addressed envelopes to send begging letters asking for donations for the building of the new church and school. Bingo was held every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, in the Community Centre and in St. Mary's Hall to raise money for the Church. Mrs. Corcoran ran a shop at the Bingo, selling cigarettes, sweets, crisps etc. which was well supported by the local community.
The parishioners were also involved in the preparation and furnishing of their Church. Mr. Spendel made the kneelers; Joe Lynch helped polish the benches. The altar itself was made of Connemara marble and donated by the Gorda. Fr. O'Donogue, along with his two black Labradors, his housekeeper Mary Bagnall and Fr. Paddy Breene, the chaplain at the newly opened St. Joseph's Catholic Comprehensive School, moved into the Presbytery.
It was on Low Sunday 1962 that the new Church in the middle of Queen's Park housing estate was officially opened and dedicated to St. Anne, the mother of Our Lady. Solemn High Mass was sung by Fr. John Schikan and Fr. David Lewis. The blessing of the Church was performed by Bishop Petit of Menevia and Fr. James O'Donoghue preached the sermon.
The parishioners were proud of their Church and were fully involved in its life. There were three Masses on a Sunday: 8.30am, 10.30am and 7.00pm with Benediction at 6.30pm. Sunday School was run in the afternoon by Fr. Breene and a group of teenagers. Daily weekday Masses were at 9am; Rosary at 7pm. Confessions on Saturday 3.30 - 4.30 & 6.30 - 8.30pm.
There were many altar servers in the early 1960s including Alphonsus and Patrick Sullivan, Bobby James, Malcolm King, Richard Williams, Chris and Peter Corcoran, under the guidance of Sacristan John Lyons and Andrew Williamson. Mr. Edward King was the organist;
Mr. Ron Saunders was the M.C. in the Church, giving out the hymn books, Mand r. Denis Walsh organizing the Offertory collections. Mr. Mike Millward did much of the maintenance work in the church and the hall, while Mrs. Lennon, Mrs. Bertha Jackson, Mrs. Lang and Mrs. Clayton helped clean the Church.
The Legion of Mary, meeting weekly in the presbytery, was very active in the 60's under the presidency of Mrs. Sheila Corcoran. Members included Mrs. Lil Saunders, Mrs. Mulvaney, Mrs. King, and Mrs. Alice Higginbottom. Christine Saunders was president of the Junior Presidium, Fr. Breene the Spiritual Director. Pauline and Margaret Corcoran, Mary Millward, Margaret Saunders, Rita and Linda Ulrich were all members. Also active was the SVP society. Members included Mr. Joe Lynch and his son Alan, Mr. O'Toole, Fred Dawson and Bernard Candy. UCM members included Mrs. Whalley, Pam Davies, Susan Corcoran, Mary Phennah, Christine and Margaret Saunders.
Many memories are attached to St. Anne's Church. Michael Cribbin and Eileen Hegarty were the first couple to be married in the Church in June 1962; Teresa Lennon was the first to be baptised and James Barlow was the first to be buried from St. Anne's.