The Catholic Parish of
Saint John Henry Newman

 Covering most of East Leeds

The Story of St. Theresa's Church and Parish

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St.TheresaIn the nineteen twenties, Cross Gates, Whitkirk and Austhorpe were rapidly developing suburbs of Leeds and although there was a Mass at Killingbeck Chapel for Catholics in those areas, Canon Collingwood, Parish Priest of St Patrick's realised that people should be able to go to Mass nearer home. To this end, he purchased land on Station Road and from 1924 onwards there were various committees running social activities in the area and establishing a feeling of Catholic community. On 15 March 1930, the foundation of St Theresa's School was laid and Bishop Cowgill formed Cross Gates into a separate Parish dedicated to St Theresa of Lisieux and in the charge of Father Patrick O'Halloran whose presbytery was 152 Austhorpe Road. When the school was completed in the autumn of 1930 it doubled as a Church and Killingbeck became a Chapel of Ease.

Father O'Halloran set about building up the Parish, which spread over a very large area: it covered the present Parish and Seacroft, Whinmoor, Swarcliffe and Scholes. In 1935, Father Cornelius Kiely was appointed to succeed him as Parish Priest.

Father Kiely built the Presbytery on Station Road and drew up plans for the building of a new church. He also invited the Holy Family Sisters to come and teach in the school. Unfortunately, he died in December 1939.

Canon Comerford was appointed to the Parish in January 1940, but the war had begun and plans for a Church had to be shelved until 1953 when St Theresa's Church opened on its present site. Canon Comerford died on 9 May 1963 leaving a Church completely clear of debt.

Father Denis Kennedy succeeded the Canon, but he had scarcely begun his work in the Parish when the Lord called him suddenly in January 1964. Father Leo Mitchel took over and made some very practical improvements. He improved facilities in the Presbytery, and carried out Father Kennedy's plans for an Assembly Hall at Carter Terrace, which proved a great asset, especially to the younger people in the Parish. In July 1968, Father Mitchel moved to St Mary's, Rothwell and Father Denis Tangney was appointed in his place.

In 1969 a Mass Centre, St John's (Halton) was built in memory of Canon Comerford who had started a Mass Centre in 1947 at Halton Institute.

By 1968 St Theresa's Primary School had become badly overcrowded and for a while some Parishioners had to send their children to St Gregory's Primary School in Swarcliffe. In the seventies, the re-organisation of Catholic Education into a three tier system meant that St Theresa's First School could once again accommodate all the pupils from five to eight years old and the local Secondary Modern School, St Kevin's, became a Middle School.

In 1980, the Golden Jubilee year of the Parish, extensive alterations were made to the Church which had never really been equal to the numbers using it or to the demands of the new Liturgy implemented by the Second Vatican Council. An extension was made on the Station Road side, giving a more generous main entrance with a ramp for wheel chairs and a Meeting Room leading to a small lobby and toilets. Two Confessional rooms were also constructed where the main entrance had originally been. The Sanctury was redesigned to its present form with the Cross and reliquary designed by the sculptor, David John. The same artist designed the Stations of the Cross, based on those in Clifton Cathedral, Bristol, and the statue of St Therese. A new stone altar and lectern were installed and completely new seating was furnished for the congregation in the nave. A Baptismal Font was located at the cross axis opposite the new entrance. Some years later, a new organ was installed at the back of the Church and the floor was carpeted.

To celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the Parish, on the feast of St Theresa, October 1990, Bishop Konstant consecrated the Church. During the ceremony, four pillars were anointed and to mark these anointing, four carved roundels depicting the four Evangelists and complete with candle sconces were installed.

Yet another re-organisation of Catholic Education was implemented in 1989 and St Theresa's Primary School was removed to St Kevin's building on Barwick Road, leaving the School on Station Road empty. So the original Church-cum-School has taken on a new role and is now serving as St Theresa's Parish Centre.

In August 1999, Canon Tangney retired from his position as Parish Priest and Father Philip Fitzgerald was inducted as Parish Priest on 1 October 1999.

Parish Priests of St. Theresa's

Fr. Patrick O'Halloran 1930-35
Fr. Cornelius Kiely 1935-39
Cannon John Comerford 1940-63
Fr. Denis Kennedy 1963-64
Fr. Leo Mitchell 1964-68
Cannon Denis Tangney 1968-1999
Fr. Philip Fitzgerald 1999-2005
Rev. Msg. Philip Holroyd 2005-2013
Rev. Mgr Paul Fisher 2013-2016
Fr Pat Wall 2016-present

Published Sun 3rd Apr 2011 17:38:44
Last Modified on Mon 4th Jun 2018 01:42:26

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