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On the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, the parish of St Alban’s, Denaby Main celebrated the one hundred and twenty fifth anniversary of its founding.  Bishop Ralph was the chief celebrant at the Anniversary Mass, which was concelebrated by Fr Desmond Edozie, Parish Priest, and Fr Bernard O’Brien.

The photograph includes Sue Pearson, Cllr Ian Pearson, David Goldson, Chair of St Alban’s Parish Council, Cllr Lani Ball, Rt Rev Ralph Heskett, Bishop of Hallam, Cllr Paul Wray, Deputy Civic Mayor of Doncaster, Fr Desmond Edozie, Parish Priest of St Alban’s Church, Fr Bernard O’Brien and Lady Neill, Deputy Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, Warrant Officer James O’Neill, 24 Commando Engineers Regiment, Corps of Royal Engineers, and parishioners who were presented with long service awards

During the early 1890s the Catholic Christian community in Denaby Main, Conisbrough, Mexborough and surrounding areas worshipped at St Peter in Chains Church, Doncaster or St Joseph’s Church, Wath.

In January 1894 Fr Locke, Parish Priest of St Joseph’s, Wath, observed that there was a growing number of Catholic Christians who regularly attended Mass on Sunday from Denaby Main.  He briefed Rt Rev William Gordon, Bishop of Leeds.  Both agreed that a priest should be appointed to minister to their needs.

Fr Thomas Kavanagh

In August, 1894 Fr Thomas Kavanagh arrived in Denaby Main with the task of establishing a Catholic Church Mission to meet the spiritual, religious and pastoral needs of miners and their families, drawn mainly from the growing Irish community attracted by employment opportunities and housing.

Fr Kavanagh was born in Preston.  He was ordained a priest in 1873.  Before arriving in Denaby Main he had served in Australia for ten years.  Denaby and Cadeby Collieries Company offered him the old school on Doncaster Road so that his mission could be established.

12 August, 1894, first baptism – Thomas William Mannion

September, 1894, first marriage – William O’Brien and Bridget Lang at St Peter in Chains Church, Doncaster

The first Mass was celebrated in the house of John Carr on Doncaster Road, Denaby Main.  Fr Thomas asked every working member of the congregation to contribute one shilling per week to build a church and a school.  Richard Dunn, John Jones, John Carr and Mr Rooney were members of the first parish committee.  The colliery company offered Fr Thomas a cottage on the site of the present Salvation Army Citadel.

On 21 October, 1894, Rt Rev William Gordon, Bishop of Leeds, officially opened the Catholic Church Mission.  During 1894 there were 11 baptisms.

At the end of Anniversary Mass Bishop Ralph dedicated and blessed a plaque to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the founding of the parish and celebrate the legacy of Fr Thomas Kavanagh.  He also dedicated and blessed a plaque to Those Who Gave Us Peace.

When Canon Charles Leteux became Parish Priest at St Alban’s Catholic Church in 1920, he invited parishioners who had loved ones killed in World War I to commemorate them on a memorial plaque in the church.  On 11 November, 1922 Rt Rev Dr Joseph Cowgill, Bishop of Leeds, dedicated the memorial plaque in the Sacred Heart Chapel to the sacrifice of 46 men killed during World War I.

In November, 1945 Fr Francis Sole became Parish Priest at St Alban’s Catholic Church, ten days after being demobbed from the Army.  From 1939 to 1945 Captain Francis Sole was a Chaplain in Royal Artillery, serving mainly in the Middle East and North Africa.

In 1946 he commissioned a new memorial plaque to the ten parishioners who were killed during World War II.  Early this year research was carried out into our Fallen from World I and World II.  After consulting with the parish, it emerged that there were twelve service personnel who were omitted from our memorials.  Their ultimate sacrifice was commemorated on a new memorial plaque within the spirit of the offer made by Canon Charles Leteux to parishioners in 1920.

World War I

  • Private Charles David Bond, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
  • Private Charles Fitton, York and Lancaster Regiment
  • Private William Henshaw, Bedfordshire Regiment
  • Sergeant George William Keeling, Northumberland Fusiliers
  • Private Thomas King, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
  • Signal Boy First Class Walter Elliott Lewis, Royal Navy
  • Private Charles O’Brien, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
  • Private William Quinn, Northumberland Fusiliers
  • Private John Rooney, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
  • Private Frank Sleaford, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

 

World War II

  • Private Ronald Bingham, Pioneer Corps

 

After World War II

  • Private John Garner, Northamptonshire Regiment

 

The Words of Remembrance were said by Warrant Officer James O’Neill, 24 Commando Engineer Regiment, Corps of Royal Engineers, followed by the two minutes silence.

Warrant Officer James O’Neill, 24 Commando Engineers Regiment, Corps of Royal Engineers, and Lady Neill, Deputy Lieutenant of South Yorkshire

Wreaths were laid by Lady Neill, Deputy Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, Cllr Paul Wray, Deputy Civic Mayor of Doncaster, Cllr Ian Pearson and Cllr Lani Ball, local elected members, and David Goldson, Chair of St Alban’s Parish Council.

Bishop Ralph presents a long service award to Norah Hanley

Bishop Ralph also presented long service awards to parishioners who have served the parish community.  Those presented with awards included: Graham Kirby, Patrick O’Neill, Catherine Reid, Patricia Kirby, Edith Wilkinson, Sandra King, Ann Maxwell, Norah Hanley, Mary Hurley, Elizabeth Rooney, Chloe King, Brian Nally, Patricia Granger, Catherine Douglas and Robert Keane.

The memorial plaque, wreaths and poppy crosses

After Mass parishioners and the community laid poppy crosses at the base of the altar to remember deceased members of their families who had served in the Armed Forces.

The 125th Anniversary Mass was attended by parishioners, the community, Lady Neill, Deputy Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, Fr Patrick O’Connor, Fr Bede Dike, Rev Reg Davies, Vicar of All Saints Parish Church, Cllr Paul Wray, Deputy Civic Mayor of Doncaster, Cllr Ian Pearson, Cllr Lani Ball, David Goldson, Chair of St Alban’s Parish Council, Warrant Officer James O’Neill, 24 Commando Engineer Regiment, Jo Ayres, Headteacher of St Alban’s Catholic Primary School, Kevin Kerrigan, President of Doncaster Catenians, and Sarah Hackett, Secretary of Conisbrough and Denaby Branch of the Royal British Legion.

Sue Pearson, Cllr Ian Pearson, David Goldson, Chair of St Alban’s Parish Council, Cllr Lani Ball, Rt Rev Ralph Heskett, Bishop of Hallam, Cllr Paul Wray, Deputy Civic Mayor of Doncaster, Fr Desmond Edozie, Parish Priest of St Alban’s Church, Fr Bernard O’Brien and Lady Neill, Deputy Lieutenant of South Yorkshire

Robert Keane, who received a long service award, and Lady Neill in St Alban’s Catholic Club

After Mass refreshments were provided in St Alban’s Catholic Club.  A special 125th anniversary cake was cut by Bishop Ralph and Lady Neill.

Cutting 125th anniversary cake in St Alban’s Catholic Club – left to right: Fr Bede Dike, Fr Bernard O’Brien, Lady Neill, Deputy Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, Bishop Ralph and Fr Desmond Edozie, Parish Priest

Fr Desmond Edozie, Parish Priest, said, “Our patron saint, St Alban, welcomed the stranger.  Our parish was founded by a stranger among strangers.  St Alban’s has developed and thrived on the generosity and struggles of strangers.  We have been left an inheritance based on the gospel message that is still vibrant and relevant today.

“Our 125th Anniversary Mass on the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King gave thanks to God for Fr Thomas Kavanagh, our priests, sisters and people who have left us an amazing Christian legacy.  Our parish also commemorated twelve servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice to give us peace, and we also celebrated the contribution of parishioners who were volunteers and have enriched parish life over decades.  We look to the future with confidence guided by Our Lord Jesus Christ the King and the power of the Holy Spirit.”