A collage of photos from the anniversary Mass: Photo 1 shows Bishop John blessing the wall hanging, which has purple and pink sides, a cream-coloured middle, with a brown cross at the centre; Photo 2 shows Bishop John cutting a white cake with Fr Chris standing by; Photo 3 shows the heads of members of the congregation from the back, watching the choir singing next to a banner depicting the Road to Emmaus with the words

Bolton parish celebrates past, present, and future at anniversary Mass

Saturday 21st October 2023

This October, the Parish of St Cuthbert celebrated 125 years of St Joseph’s church in Halliwell with a community Mass led by Bishop John.

With priests and parishioners past and present joining the celebration, the Mass was a true community event, complete with pupils from parish primary schools – St Joseph and St Thomas of Canterbury – teaming up with the parish music group to add to the festivities.

To commemorate this wonderful anniversary, the parish commissioned a remarkable wall hanging for the church, made up of fragments of vintage vestments representing the service of the parish, its priests, and parishioners over the years.

After the Mass, Bishop John blessed this beautiful hanging before heading out to explore and bless the parish’s new garden project.

Photo showing the garden covered with bark, yellow and white flowers in raised planters at the front, a wooden bench opposite a table, which is beneath a beautiful tree. In the background, the are two more planters with green shoots, a bird bath, and another wooden bench in the corner in the sunshine.

For over a year, parishioners have worked hard to create this beautiful outdoor space; providing a quiet area for prayer and reflection for all faiths and none.

This once overgrown space surrounding the church has been transformed into a most colourful corner of creation, complete with raised beds for plants and shrubs, new hedge borders, and a small pond with aquatic plants. Plans are also in place for herb growing, bee keeping, and installing bug houses to protect and nurture our local wildlife and biodiversity.

Pauline O’Rourke, a member of the parish leadership team, is delighted to share news of the garden and to invite people to pop by and spend a little time in the peace and quiet of this charming space.

She said: “It is intended the garden will be used by our parish schoolchildren to help them learn about the care of creation and the importance of the effect of climate change in our world, but there are also seating areas for people to just sit quietly or for prayer and reflection. We all know life can be hectic, but studies show that even a small amount of time in the calm and quiet of nature can have a profound impact on our health and wellbeing, as well as helping us reconnect to Creator God and reflect on our role as stewards of his creation.”

Photo of the pond at the garden at St Cuthbert's

As well as creating this magnificent garden, parishioners have also turned their attention indoors, completing key restoration work to help carry out the daily work of the parish.

Pauline explained: “The renovations have resulted in the improvement of the original sacristy with an adjoining office space and the restoration of the original confessional box.

“We’re also very excited about the creation of a new meeting room area, which is enabling the parish to host the children’s liturgy in a welcoming environment for the children. Our new kitchen facilities will also enable us to hold regular coffee mornings and regular fundraising events for our outreach ministry, and prayer groups and other parish activities will also be enhanced by the provision of a new wall screen and projector, helping us to better spread our parish events and activities across our two churches.”

Parish priest Fr Chris Gorton was delighted to celebrate these latest projects at the 125th anniversary celebration and is looking forward to seeing the impact of these moving forward.

He said: “Marking 125 years of parish life is a wonderful occasion but it’s been made even more special by recognising the new initiatives that will help our community grow and develop in future years.

“This October, we’re not just celebrating the long history of this fantastic parish, but we’re toasting a future of faith, mission, and community that will be served by these latest developments in our parish.”

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