St. Augustine of Canterbury Church, Leeds Centenary Book.1905-2005
The Parish Today in 2005.
St Augustines is now a one priest parish and Fr. Michael has delegated most of its management to the laity enabling him to concentrate more on his priestly spiritual role. Many groups or ministries have been formed among the laity to give him support and take responsibility for the various different aspects that come together to form the upkeep of the buildings and the general life of the parish. There is probably a far greater percentage of parishioners who are actively involved than there ever has been in the past.
Weekly mass attendance for the majority of the younger generation of Catholics, who have been brought up in this country, is no longer considered essential. Young parents are eager for their children to receive a catholic education in the parish school, but very few of them support the parish by attending Mass or parish functions. The result is that year-by-year as the size of the congregation decreases, the average age increases.
However the parish has been fortunate to become home for the many young Filipino immigrants, who due to the national lack of nurses, have come to this country to work in the hospitals and nursing homes. They have formed their own little community at St Augustines and attract the Filipinos who live in other parts of the city. It would appear to be very similar to the way St Franciss in Holbeck became a focal point for many of the Irish immigrants of the past before the Irish centre was built on York Road.
Also more recently, the parish has become home for many Catholics from
the African continent and it is a wonderful site to see them at Mass
on Sundays in their brightly coloured national costumes.
During the Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, Fr. Michael washed
the feet of twelve men, all from different nations reflecting the fact
that St Augustines has truly become an international parish.
The overall effect, as well as enriching the parish family life with
new cultures and wonderful food at parish functions, has resulted in
a steady increase in Sunday Mass attendances and the lowering of the
average age, preventing St Augustines from becoming a Parish
The Irish immigrants of the early twentieth century were treated with suspicion by the indigenous population and not always made to feel welcome. They were from a different cultural background, practised a popish religion and were generally considered as foreigners with split loyalties. They came in such large numbers; the few loyal English Catholics must have felt swamped as they changed the face of Roman Catholicism in Leeds. These and their descendants have now become the indigenous population of today.
It is hoped that in todays modern world and especially at St Augustines, immigrants from abroad are appreciated and given a warm welcome enabling them to feel at home.