St. Augustine of Canterbury Church, Leeds Centenary Book.1905-2005
The Parish Bus
Ken did a few minor repairs and spray painted it blue in his back garden while his wife Biddy and Kens wife Helen gave the inside a full makeover upholstering the seats to make it comfortable. It made its maiden trip on 1st November 1969. Parishioners volunteered to drive and a rota was set up taking some of our elderly parishioners to and from two of the Sunday morning Masses.
We started having coffee mornings in the lower hall after the l0am Mass to help with the running costs. There was one gentleman, a stranger to the parish, who used to come out of Mass early and was always first in queue. Each week he put half- a-crown in the basket for his coffee and wouldnt let us give him any change. This went on for a number of weeks until someone told us that he was taking the half-crown out of the basket during the second collection just before the end of Mass. Needless to say, after being found out we never saw him again.
When Canon Murray became the new parish priest he took one look at the bus and declared that in his opinion it was unsafe and did nothing to enhance the image of St Augustines. He gave Ken and Edgar three hundred pounds and instructed them to purchase another bus. They set off for Nottingham at 6am one morning and bought a fourteen seater Bedford for £90(see photograph). The ignition key was lost so they had to tow it back to Leeds arriving home at 9pm. Canon Murray was probably very surprised when he was given £210 change. Whether he approved of the purchase is not known but this Maroon and silver bus served the parish for the following three years. It was also used to take the elderly on summer outings.
In 1974 an American 21 seater Dodge bus was bought. Ken
saw it abandoned in a car park in Holbeck and went into the nearby transport
cafe to enquire about the owner. He paid £125 for it and drove
it home. One evening when the bus was parked outside church it incurred
a £2 fine because it was parked without lights.
In 1975 a 19 seater Morris bus with a lift for wheelchairs was bought from Dr Barnardos for £550 and was used for five years until Canon Murray replaced it with a 14 seater transit. Lots of laws and regulations were gradually being introduced over the years making it more complicated and expensive to run a parish bus and the management of the project was passed on to Tom Whelan. In the 1990s during Fr. Durcans time, the bus was sold as it became more economical to hire a Burtons mini bus each Sunday morning.
In 1975 the school moved to St Wilfreds Circus which is a fifteen
minute walk from the church. The teaching staff still organise an annual
May procession, but on a much smaller scale within the school. However,
this year being the parish centenary, they plan to have a combined May
and Corpus Christi procession on 27 May starting at school and walking
in procession down to the church.
May 31st 1931 Instructions re the Corpus Christi Outdoor Procession next Sunday at 4 oclock
There will be Benediction on the lawn in front of the house where there will be a special altar erected. Flowers (red and white only) and offerings for flowers and candles for the altar are to be sent early on Saturday afternoon. The Procession will leave by the church gates and end by the garden gates and will be carefully regulated by stewards and will be composed in the following order:
1. School Boys
There will be fuller and final arrangements next Sunday morning.
As this is a great act of homage to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and a public avowal of our unswerving faith in the Real Presence, no one should consider themselves exempt. All men especially, should make every effort to be there.
June 7th 1931 (The fuller and final arrangements promised the previous week)
The Corpus Christi Procession today at 4 oclock
Hymns:- Pange Sweet Sacrament Jesus my
The Procession begins with the acolytes (carrying the cross). They
go down the Gospel aisle followed by:
Dont trample the garden: keep in good formation: dont rush: follow the origin and keep together: Divine Praises in a body.
Sr Imelda (Mary Healey) recalls: The following year I was trainbearer with Pat OToole to Maureen Howard, who was the May Queen. I have many memories of happy days. For May processions we would dress in school, then walk in twos. One year after our devotions we went to Harehills Cemetery playing angels on the graves and blessing the tombs. Needless to say our Mam didnt bless us when we came home full of mud.
The big events for us kids were the May and June processions and thinking back it cant have been easy for our parents getting us all ready. Everyone in Harehills would come out to watch us parade from the school to the church. Maureen McHale
Molly Newton remembers her time as May Queen in 1948. She was eight years old and in Miss Molloys class. All the names of the girls were put into a hat and Fr. OFlaherty chose one at random. She was the only one to crown Our Ladys statue twice in the same year as the crown slipped off the first time!
The May Procession was a wonderful event. All the girls dressed in white and carried flowers; the scent of narcissus still takes me back to those days. The May Queen had two trainbearers and that year they were my friends Mary Ferrier and Rita Harrigan and twelve maids of honour chosen in the same random way as the Queen and train bearers.
The Children of Mary in blue cloaks carried a statue of Our Lady. The boys, although they did walk in the May Procession, really came into their own for the Corpus Christi Procession when they, wearing their white shirts and red ties led the procession, proceeding the priest carrying the Blessed Sacrament under a canopy which was carried, I think, by the Knights of St Columbia. Petals were strewn on the path in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I remember that I was allowed to choose a statue from the piety stall to commemorate this wonderful time of my life.
Ordinations to the Priesthood
There have been four ordinations in St Augustines church in the latter half of the twentieth century. Bernard Duffy in July 1954, Donald Stoker in November 1961, Bernie Johnson on 17th June 1962 and James Gill on 6th August 1978. Michael and John Kelly who attended St Augustines school in the 1940s to early 50s were also ordained priests, but not at St Augustines church as they both belonged to St Nicholass parish. (St Nicholass children used to attend St Augustines school before they built their own)
Bernie Johnson, born in 1938, the son of Johno Johnson, the deputy head of the school, was ordained at St Augustines on 17th June 1962. His older brother Pat said that when Bernie said his first Mass, their father read the first reading from the book of Leviticus, about how children should look after their parents and that he and the rest of the family thought it was rather amusing.
James Gills family moved out of the parish while James was away training for the priesthood. Although he was ordained in St Augustines church he celebrated his first Mass at St Brigids Churwell.
One day Winnie Haveren came to school recruiting for the Junior Legion of Mary. There were about ten girls at the first meeting. I loved going to the different houses with Our Ladys statue, and we prayed the rosary together. Each week we had our Legion work to do. When I was twelve, one of the senior legionaries could not do her work at the Little Sisters of the Poor, so she asked me to replace her. That was the grace of my life. Thanks to the Legion of Mary I realised my vocation and entered the religious life of the Little Sisters in 1956.
After spending thirty-five years in France caring for the elderly, I am now the collecting sister in Headingley.
Memories of an Irish Immigrant
In the 1960s, I volunteered to type up the weekly parish bulletin each Saturday morning (though sometimes Anne Raynor did it.) There were no computers or fancy printers in those days; it was printed up on an old Gestetner. The priest stood over us all the time telling us what to type. We used to have to type it up on a wax foolscap page and use correcting fluid that was bright red. However, this was in short supply so we frequently used red nail polish instead. Then the backing paper was taken off the wax and put onto all these little spikes face down on a kind of roller, like a milk churn. It wasnt automatic so it had to be turned manually with the handle until there were about a thousand or more copies. It took a full morning, everything had to be cleaned afterwards and it was very messy. I used to get covered in ink.
I did it during Fr. Craig, Fr. Donovan and Canon Murrays time. There wasnt an office either, just a little room. Mary Redmond.