Corpus Christi Church

Ever since the Reformation the Lathom and the Molyneux families kept a priest in their residence at Mossborough Hall but after the last priest to serve in 1744 the Roman Catholic Church had no representation in the village, its followers having to journey the four or five miles to St. Helens or Billinge in order to worship together.

 This state of affairs lasted  until almost the end of the 19th century when in 1869, the Rev. Joseph Wrennall began making attempts to acquire land upon which to build.  However, by his death in 1872 no significant progress had been made, mainly due to the fact that the protestant landowners refused to sell to Catholics. Offered for sale at an auction held in the Eagle and Child Inn, Rainford on the 18th September, 1873,  was a piece of land of seven and a half acres owned by the family of the late Mrs. Mary Richardson of Rainford House.Among the potential buyers were the Rev. Father Austin Powell, Roman Catholic priest of St. Mary’s Church, Birchley, and a Thomas Mather of Billinge. Unbeknown to the others present, Father Powell had made prior arrangements with Thomas Mather to make it appear that he, Thomas Mather, was bidding against the reverend, whilst in fact bidding in conjunction with him. When the bidding reached £1,800, this being the prearranged point, the reverend indicated that he could go no further. Mr. Richard Pennington of Muncaster Hall raised the price to £2,000 which the auctioneer was poised to accept when Thomas Mather stepped forward and offered what became the final bid of £2,050. The expression of the crowd was that the priest had lost, until to their consternation Father Powell stood up and paid the money. Now the Catholic community had sufficient land to build a new church and school.

Upon acquiring the land, Father Powell’s first priority was to build a new catholic school to provide education for the children. After seeing this successfully opened on the 10th August, 1874, it was now time for him to concentrate his energies upon designing a new church which was to be built on the remainder of the land.

On Sunday, 18th July, 1875, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the Foundation Stone of the new church was laid by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Rev. B. O’Reilly, D.D. A large crowd of people attended the ceremony, many of them from neighbouring areas who arrived at the nearby village station on special trains provided by the London and North Western Railway Company. The weather remained fine for the occasion and the closing collection raised £97. 2s.

Mr. J. Middlehurst, the builder, then worked untiringly to complete the building as quickly as possible. This he achieved by October enabling the opening ceremony to take place on Sunday, 17th October, 1875. Once more the service was performed by  the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Rev. B. O’Reilly, D.D. assisted by others before a congregation which far exceeded the seating capacity for approximately 200 worshippers. Now at last the Catholic community of Rainford had a place of their own in which to worship 

The little church continued to serve the community for almost 105 years, the last Mass being celebrated on the 6th July, 1980, after which services continued in the newly built church across the road.

 

 The New Church.                                          
This was opened and blessed by The Most Rev. Derek Worlock , Archbishop of Liverpool, on July 27th, 1980.

                                                                  

Silver Jubilee Celebrations,  23rd - 27th July, 2005       A Festival of Flowers

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