AYLESBURY'S 'HANDFUL' NOW 1,960 LESS than a lifetime ago, Mr. Butt, a Catholic boarding school owner in Slough, would set out early on Saturday morning to walk the 20-odd miles to London. He would call at the Embassy chapels to see if a priest could supply for the week-end and the two would return to Slough by coach.
On the occasions when no priest was available, Mr. Butt would walk the 20 miles home again.
That is a glance backwards in just one parish of the vast Northampton diocese, big as Wales and a real land of promise for the Tra Yelling Missioner, Fr. Anthony H u I m e.
Writing to THE CarHotic HERALD. Fr. Hulme has passed over South Bucks, or South Beds. which 'both have 'an abnormal influx of population, to concentrate on Mid-Bucks. an area which has suffered a normal impact from various factors in the growth of the Church in our rural districts.
AYLESBURY, thc centre of this area. began with less than a handful of Catholics. " The year my father, still hale and hearty, was 10," writes Fr. Hulme, " in that vast area which comprised the parish, 16 people made their Easter duties in the whole county.
"There was a parish at Weston Underwood in the extreme north. and another tiny one at Marlow in the extreme south-west. while at Slough Mr. Butt's family ran the Catholic hoarding school."
In 1891 there were 55 Catholics in Aylesbury.. To-day there are 1.960. Sixty-five tears ago there was one baptism during the year. Last year there were 80.
Moreover. parishes have grown up all round the circumference of the Aylesbury parish. so that the increase is still more impressive. Even High Wycombe caters for a few of the villages which at one time came under Aylesbury's care. In 1917 High Wycombe had 14 baptisms and 276 Catholics. Today it has nearly 100 baptisms a year and there are 2,000 Catholics.
'HIDE AND SEEK
OTHER parishes having territory carved out of old Aylesbury include Wolverton, Buckingham, Chesharn Bois, Princes Ris
borough, Great Missonden, Woburn Sands and Bletchley. Buckingham had 23 Catholics in 1917. To-day there are 445. There are now 360 Catholics in Princes Rishorough. 524 in Woburn Sands and 600 in Bletchley.
Even this is not the end of the A:k lesbury story-as the presentday parishes of Leighton Buzzard and Dunstable in the next county and even Bicester and Tring in the .next diocese eater for part of the huge tract of land that Aylesbury eared for a lifetime ago.
" I don't think it is too much to say that the increase in that time has been 200 fold: the seed falling on good ground," says Fr. Hulme. He adds one proviso: Aylesbury is a parish which has a tradition of a very hard-working clergy.
The Travelling Missioner fits well into this picture. He says Mass at Brill (home of saints and martyrs). Wotton Underwood (once the seat of the Dukes of Buckingham), Long Crendon (Coronation village), Worminghall (where the county boundaries play hide and seek 1. Waddesdon (under the shadow of the Rothschilds), Aston Clinton (with more than 100 Catholics), and Whitchurch pretty village of pretty ironwork).
T N each of these villages the con gregations to-day are greater than could he mustered in the parish and whole territory of Aylesbury put together a long lifetime ago. And this despite the fact that there is regular Mass at Westcoo, Haddenham, Stoke Mandeville, Stone, Grendon Underwood and other centres in the parish.
And despite the fact, too, that a number of European priestsPoles and Latvians-say Mass occasionally in the parish.
Al! Fr. Hulme's ventures have great promise for the future and there are as many centres again that he would like to visit. The sloth is the sante in most parts of the Northampton diocese,
That is where help is neededmaterial, personal and spiritual and Fr. Anthony Hulme, one of three hard-working priest brothers -one is at Walsingham, the other in Manchester-is daily playing his part. The rest remains with the "growing Church."
Dom Edmund Jones, 0.S.B., Prior of the Priory of Christ the King, Cockfasters, was elected to the executive committee of the Vernacular Society of Great Britain at the annual meeting recently. The hon. secretary is Mr. C. Cunliffe, 29. Riverdale Gardens. Twickenham.
The Bishop Beck Cup. open to football clubs in the Brentwood diocese, has been won by Garton Sports Association. who heat St. Mars's. Horrichurch, in the final 2 --ft Applications for next season's competition may he sent to the Secretary, 105, Beachwood Gardens. Ilford, by May 26.
Councillor Owen Waters, a parishioner of SS. Peter and Paul's, Ilford a member of the borough council for six years and a candidate in the current municipal elections, has been appointed a Justice of the Peace for the County of Essex.
Some 1,350 scouts and cubs attended the St. George's Day parades of the Catholic Scout Guild in the Southwark diocese-700 at St. Anne's Vauxhall (for London and Kent) and 650 at the Sacred Heart Church, Caterham (for Surrey and f'.7assex).