BISHOP David McGough was the chief celebrant at a Mass to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of a Walsall church, writes Józef Łopuszyiaski.
Over 50 years previously Fr Curtin almost singlehandedly raised the funds to establish a new parish in Dartmouth Avenue, Coalpool, Walsall. Archbishop Grimshaw laid the first stone.
In the early 1970s Fr Curtin won the pools and although he gave the money away he kept just a small amount back. With this he bought a Mini Clubman to help him get around and also a pipe organ for the church, custom-made and built by Rieger of Austria and donated in memory of his parents.
At the celebrations the first organist on that unique and rare instrument was thrilled to meet the only surviving member of his former choir, Louise Wilkinson, who recognised him straight away, and many memories were exchanged. Church adminis trator and deacon Michael McGrail said: “I am very fortunate to be able to look after such a vibrant parish.
“Fr Curtin, who was here for 30 years, has left a lasting impression. This is evident when speaking to both Catholics and nonCatholics alike.” It was in 1999 that Deacon McGrail was appointed to run the parish after the church was left without a priest.
He said: “I look after the day-to-day running of the parish and share the pastoral role with Fr Robert Murphy who is the parish priest and resides at nearby St Peter’s church in Bloxwich. Fr Murphy is able to say Mass at the church three times a week, and the children from St Thomas of Canterbury junior school attend Mass once a fortnight in the church.
“This is very important because the school is a very important part of our parish community.”