The Catholic Parish of
Blessed John Henry Newman

 Covering most of East Leeds

Reminiscences of an Octogenarian

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I have already mentioned that I spent three years attending at the local council school. The Headmaster was a Mr Exley, he lead the singing of Jerusalem in the school assemblies with great gusto, he applied the same enthusiasm to the singing of the Shakespearean songs 'Where The Bee Sucks there lurk I' and' Mistress mine where are you roaming' The catholic children were always given the opportunity to have separate prayers with Mr Critchley who was a catholic member of staff. Those three years were not unhappy but we were all pleased when St Theresa's School opened. I had attended the cutting of the first sod ceremony and the laying of the foundation stone by Bishop Cowgill in the early months of 1930.

My first days at St Theresa's School as a ten year old in September 1930 were happy days. Our first class teacher was a Miss Shannon, The Head teacher was Mr Thomas Flatley the other teachers were Mr Bernard Leach, Mrs Rose Anne Cardis, Miss Mary Loftus. Miss Agnes Degnan and Miss Margaret Walsh.

Going into the newly built school was quite an adventure, the smell of newly applied paint and odour on new wood always prompts a recollection of my early days at St Theresa's School.

My entry into the new school coincided with my beginning to serve Mass. Each morning I served Fr O'Halloren's Mass at eight o'clock. One of my first duties on reporting to Father at 7-45 a.m. (he was by this time ensconced in the teachers' staff room) was to go across Station Road to Hague's news-agent and tobacconist shop and purchase two twenty Capstan Cigarettes and the Leeds Mercury newspaper with the 2/- (today's 10 pence) he had given me to make the purchase. I will leave it to today's smokers to compare the price they now pay for 40 cigarettes compared with the 1/11 that a smoker paid in those days.

After I had passed over the purchases to Father I left him to have his first cigarette of the day and to scan the daily news while I went along to the chapel and prepared his vestments and the Altar for the daily Mass. The attendance at morning mass in those days averaged a congregation of 10 people.

In those days of the Tridentine Mass the server was the only one who responded to the priest's prayers, the responses were in Latin, it took some time before a server could manage the responses without the aid of a prayer book.

I continued to serve the daily masses until I left school in the spring of 1934. I continued to serve at the Sunday Masses in the Killingbeck Chapel from 1930 to August 1939 when I went off to the War. Sunday evenings were devoted to the Rosary, Sermon & Benediction service, ( there was not any evening masses in those days.) The sung Litany to Our Lady was a feature of these devotions as was the sung Little Office of Our Lady, sung by the Children of Mary under the leadership of Marie Smith and Doris Hirst.



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Published Sat 11th Oct 2003 13:27:42

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