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A History of Catholic Life in Weymouth and Portland

"Priests and People are One - that is our precious tradition" (Bishop Cyril Restieaux)

Part XIII The year 2008 – the Union of the Parishes

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Burn’s Night Supper

Burns Night

For some years, the LIFE Group had held a Burn's Night Supper on a Saturday near the 25th January, the Scottish Bard's birthday. The proceedings of 26th January 2008 were typical. The evening consisted of Scottish Music, Singing and Dancing to commemorate the Bard. A supper of the Traditional Haggis with optional dishes of Casserole or Vegetarian Lasagne. Guests brought their own wines, spirits or soft drinks

Fr Stephen in preparing to address the Haggis, mentioned that his family had a connection with Robert Burns via his ancestor, a Bishop John Geddes in penal times in Scotland and Burns was quoted as saying that ‘that papist bishop was the only man who spoke any sense’.

Fr Stephen gave the Selkirk Grace and addressed the Haggis in a Scots dialect which was however totally incomprehensible to the sassenachs.

The denouement – the despatch of the Haggis – was mercifully swift.

The Parish Website goes live

In early March 2008, the parish website went live. The aim was to enable parishioners to keep up to date with the Newsletter, and to keep informed of the activities of the various groups which made the parish so vibrant. Later the website would be expanded to include other information such as the times of Masses, homilies and links to other sites.

Polish Easter

Easter Basket

By 2008, there were a number of Catholics from Poland working in Weymouth, and Polish Masses were regularly being said at one of our two Churches. This year it was decided to have a blessing of Easter food on Holy Saturday a traditional Polish custom. Alicia Watkins, Catholic of Polish origin explained the significance of the contents of the Easter basket, which varies from family to family:

Pisanki: Coloured boiled eggs symbolize life and rebirth, and especially Christ's Resurrection from the tomb.

Kielbasa: A spicy sausage of pork products, indicating God's favour and generosity

Baranek Wielkanocny: A sugar lamb, representing Christ Resurrected - a typical Polish Easter symbol

Pepper and Horsradish: Symbolize the bitter herbs of the Passover and Exodus.

Bread: Symbolizes Christ, "the Bread of Life"

Salt: "You are the salt of the earth"

Vinegar: Symbolizes the gall given to Christ at his crucifixion

Wine: Symbolizes the blood of the sacrifice spilt by Christ at his crucifixion

The Parishes of St Augustine, St Joseph and of Our Lady & St Andrew become united


On 27th March 2008 the Rt Rev Christopher Budd, Bishop of Plymouth, decreed that the parishes of Our Lady & St Andrew, Portland, St Augustine, Weymouth and St Joseph, Weymouth, be suppressed and united to form a new parish which was to take the name of Our Lady Star of the Sea.

The ecclesiastical goods and patrimonial rights of the parishes of Portland and both Weymouth parishes, together with their respective obligations,... were to be ceded to the newly erected parish whilst respecting the wishes of founders and benefactors, as well as any acquired rights..

The Parish Church was to be St Joseph, Weymouth. The former Parish Church of St Augustine was to become a Chapel of Ease of the new parish. The Portland Church (Our Lady and St Andrew) would remain closed.

Bishop Budd then appointed Fr Stephen Geddes as the parish priest of the new parish of Our Lady Star of the Sea.

This Decree was to become effective on the First day of April 2008.

Extensions to St Joseph’s Church and a New Church Hall

At the recent meeting of the Building Group held in the Presbytery of St. Augustine’s Church under the chairmanship of the parish priest Fr. Stephen Geddes it was decided that the way forward for the parish was to build a new church building on the site of the existing church building and hall of St. Joseph’s.

This new building would be large enough to provide adequately for the existing parish numbers and to allow for growth. The building would also be designed to accommodate space and facilities for catechesis, meetings, administration, social, music and good liturgical practice.

In subsequent discussions with English Heritage, it was agreed that the general fabric of St Joseph’s Church would be preserved, but there would be lateral extensions to the nave of the Church and an extension of the Choir loft to accommodate worshippers.

The current Church Hall would be demolished and a new hall built in its place with modern facilities.

The total cost was capped at £1.5M

Sister Aquin becomes Chaplain to St Augustine’s School

In May, Fr Geddes, after discussion with Sr. Aquin and Mr. Mason the Head Teacher, asked Bishop Budd to appoint Sr. Aquin as a Chaplain to St. Augustine's School. This post gave her a pastoral role to the children, their parents and the staff.

Parish Talk on Embryology

In June, Fr Geddes invited Fr Dylan James, Parish Priest for St Edwards Church, Shaftesbury to give a talk on Embryology since 2000. Embryology was very much in the news with Governments advocating destruction of embryos for stem cell research purposes. Fr Dylan James had been recently awarded a Doctorate in Bioethics at the Alphonsianum, one of Rome's Pontifical Universities. He also lectured at Wonersh seminary

His talk was divided into 3 sections

Modern science and the embryo and the first 14 days

Does the end justify the means?

Hybrids and chimeras - monsters

Fr James’ talk was thoughtful and informative. Detailed notes were made of his talk, and after he had verified them as accurate, they were posted on the website.

A copy of Fr James’ can be downloaded here

Parish Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

In June it was announced that a Parish Pilgrimage to the Holy Land was being organised to take place in the coming October. Father Geddes would lead the pilgrims.

Death of Bill Ludlow

We were all shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Bill Ludlow on 4th July. Bill was one of the stalwarts of the parish, at one time Chairman of the Parish Council, strongly pro-Life and provided wise guidance on the running of the parish.

Bill had been Managing Director of Devenish Brewery, and was Chairman of the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy and played a sterling role in Olympic Sailing over the years.

In 1991 he was High Sheriff of Dorset.

His Funeral Mass took place at St Joseph's on 16th July with a packed Church, with mourners also following the service in the Church Hall.

May his Soul Rest in Peace.

Travelling Trends Fashion Show

Travelling Trends

The Weymouth LIFE Group have been holding "Travelling Trends" fashion shows for a couple of years now and the latest one, held at St Joseph's Hall on 10th July was another success.

About 50 women turned up for a girly night out with wine or drinks and displays of fashions at very competitive prices. The photograph shows our models Liz Galloway, Monika Brodowska, Priscilla McGowen, Blanche Cooper and Paula Devey, parading some of the clothes.

Buying was brisk, and the LIFE Group raised £240.45 from the sale of tickets, refreshments and a raffle.

Fashion Shows are now quite a popular way for local groups to raise money.

Fr Kieran Kirby leaves St Joseph’s

On 13th July, Fr Kieran said his last Mass at St Joseph’ before departing to take over the care of another composite parish at Ilfracombe.

On 5th July he said an affectionate farewell to parishioners. He had been with the parish since 2001.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU: Once again through the newsletter, can I thank you all for my fantastic send off!

The party, the gifts, the cards and the very, very, generous cheque. God bless you all. Fr Kieran

Birthday Reunion

On Saturday 20th September the Youth Club held a 30th birthday reunion. A Celebration Mass at St Joseph's at 6pm was followed by a Social Evening at St Augustine's School.

This event was for any person who attended the Club over the past 30 years!

CAFOD Collection

In November, Parishioners donated the sum of £915 to CAFOD via second collections at the two churches on the final sunday of the liturgical year

Chris Williams’ trip to Rome

Chris Williams

In the spring and summer of 2008, the Parish was active in raising funds to send Chris Williams on a trip to Rome and the Vatican as part of his religious studies. This was organised by Chris’s school, Thomas Hardye’s and was to take place in October.

Chris suffered from Cerebral Palsy, and needed a wheelchair to get around. He also had restricted use of his right arm, and his other arm reached only up to the elbow

Christopher Williams, a motivated and intelligent young man was a committed Catholic and it was reckoned that he would benefit academically and spiritually from this visit.

A fund was set up for him and there were functions organised to raise the money, including a memorable curry supper.

Although the cost including carers’ fees and travel seemed initially almost insuperable, two members of the parish volunteered to be his carers and this reduced the cost considerably. Also Alitalia agreed to waive the cost of air transport of Chris’s hoist. The upshot was that Chris was able to make his trip and because of his condition he had a front seat to meet the Holy Father.

Advent and Christmas 2008

On 13th December, as part of the run up to Christmas, Chris Williams provided an interesting and amusing evening for parishioners, relating his adventures in Rome, with humorous interjections by his two carers. Cheese, biscuits and mince pies were provided.

The Stella Maris One World Christmas Bazaar raised £965.85 – with a massive thank you to all who organised it and supported it.

The Parish Penitential Service took place on Tuesday 16th December where 4 priests were available to hear Confessions. Closer to Christmas there was a candlelit Carol Service on the Sunday before Christmas. Music, singing and readings were followed by ‘Seasonal Fayre’ in the Church Hall afterwards.

To be continued . . .

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