Our Lady of Lourdes, Priory Road
The congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes were thrilled to at last move into their new church in time for the first Mass, Palm Sunday on Sunday April 13th 2014. For many of the parishioners it was the first opportunity for them to see inside of the church which they have all helped to build and had looked forward to for many years.
We were fortunate to have been gifted over seventy years ago three acres of land in readiness for the “temporary building” which was to become our place of worship until August 2012. In the 1960’s approximately two acres of the land was sold for the houses to be built in Sarum Way.
When we began about seven years ago to look seriously at our need to replace our outdated building we devised a plan whereby we could sell a portion of our remaining land for housing and use the money raised towards our new church, we then employed an architect who drew up the plans for the fourteen new houses which make up Lourdes Crescent and a new church dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes for the Catholic congregation of Hungerford the project was designed as a whole in the Arts and Crafts Style.
It has been a long project we first had to seek permission from the Bishop in Portsmouth before we could consider building a new church, we then set up a feasibility study to see the viability of the project, we looked at issues such as sustainability of the congregation in a time when the press tells us that there is a decline in church attendance also how and indeed whether or not we should be thinking of funding such a large project in a time of austerity, but what always came back to the discussion table was the fact that we do have a vibrant and very committed congregation of all ages some who travel fifteen miles to share our Sunday Mass, and this community, which has over many years grown together was what we were building for. Our old building although much loved was no longer fit for purpose we had no facilities for disabled access or toilets and no satisfactory space for our children to have their own liturgy.
There were many planning issues to adhere to, just some of which were the planning departments request that we should have a geological study taken of the old building before it was taken down, and a survey of the level of noise from the existing building and its impact of the surrounding houses compared with the projected level of noise we would make from the new building and of course the very emotive issue of parking. We were elated when our planning application was passed on its first hearing by Newbury District Council.
Beards Swindon were appointed as the main contractor and they have worked with the architect Jeremy Bell of JKBS Architects to produce a truly stunning building, a new stone altar was commissioned locally from Humphries Stonemasons and we had a successful project whereby parishioners bought a seat which enabled us to purchase new bespoke pews.
As I have said previously it has been a long journey to get us to where we are today but we are now the custodians of a wonderful purpose built church fit to worship and fit to take the Catholic Community in Hungerford and the surrounding areas forward for many generations. It has been an amazing project to be involved and I personally feel honoured to have seen it grow from fruition to completion.
We have been amazed at the support we have been given by other members of the community and in particular by the Elders and members of the United Reformed Church in Hungerford High Street who have been our hosts for nearly nineteen months, without this unselfish Christian hospitality we would not have managed to keep our identity as a presence in Hungerford. To them we say “thank you”. M.A.
We are now open at:
OUR LADY OF LOURDES CATHOLIC CHURCH IN PRIORY ROAD, HUNGERFORD FOR MASS EACH SUNDAY AT 9.00AM AND
ALTERNATIVE THURSDAYS AT 10.00AM
Parish Priest Father Zbigniew
Local contact Margaret Ainge: telephone 01488 682239
Website at www.northdownsrcchurches.org.uk