The church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Newent, Gloucesteshire, was opened in 1960. Fifty years later there were Golden Jubilee celebrations in the newly refurbished church.
On Thursday 11th February, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the parishioners came together for a Mass of Thanksgiving and Celebration. The Rt Rev Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton, was chief celebrant and offered a Blessing Prayer over the new sanctuary furniture: the Presidential Chair, the Ambo and the Altar, as well as blessing the new entrance and extension. He was assisted by Fr Francis OSB, Abbot of Prinknash Abbey, Fr Michael Winstanley SDB, our Provincial and Fr Bernard Massey. Dean of Gloucester. We were delighted to have Fr Bill Boyd, builder of the church, as Guest of Honour. Also concelebrating were Fr Sean, Fr Aidan and local priests: Fr Kevin Hennessy, Fr Barnabas Page, Fr Gary Brassington and Fr Donal Daly.
The music group was led by Bernadette Kilty and Joe Skivington. Incidentally, Joe and Fr Michael had been present at the opening of the church in 1960!
On Friday 12th February we had an ecumenical Celebration: a series of short talks on the history of the parish, interspersed by classical choral singing by Joe Skivington’s Newent Scottish Choir. Fr Sean Murray delivered the speech of the night by explaining for our visitors how the school in Blaisdon rose out of the innovative youth work in the 19th century of Don Bosco and delivered an outstanding service to the neglected young of the 20th century. No one quibbled that his ’5 minutes’ lasted 20 minutes.
A small book was compiled by parishioners to commemorate the event. It is called MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD, with a cover price of £3.99. It gives an overview of the history of Catholicism in the parish and in the Forest of Dean, from earliest times. Interestingly, there are 20 Anglican churches in the area covered by the present parish that are of pre-Reformation origin. Other articles cover the Reformation, the building of the church and the progress of the parish community.