1920’s: A Church for Kenton

St Leonards Interior
St Leonards Interior

A parish magazine, the Record, was started with an initial publication of 300, which had more than doubled in two years, and a Free-Will Offering Scheme was also introduced. An enormous amount of work, however, backed up these schemes and the countless other activities that raised the much needed money. From the start Fr Johnson was anxious that in Kenton there should be a complete complex of buildings, all permanent, which should be free of debt. In this work he ultimately succeeded in 1959 with the building of St Mary’s Hall, but at what cost to himself only One can tell. Here is a report of his words at the opening of a Grand Bazaar on the 14th of October, 1927: he remarked that St Leonard was the patron saint of beggars and so their patron saint would have great sympathy for the members of St Leonard’s Church in Kenton. He appealed to them to help the church and urged them to do all they could, not only for the temporary church, but to push on for something greater.

He wanted them to remember the responsibilities of the Church. For a good number of years there would be a tremendous amount of work to be done, but as a first Priest-in-charge he knew that he had a body of men and women behind him who were doing all they could to further that work. The journey was long, but if they showed that united front which was such an important thing these days, the work, hard as it would be, would be accomplished. In Kenton they were doing something to build up a greater church worthy of the name of Christians.

Delightful though these social occasions were, and financially necessary, it was the Opus Dei, the worship of the Most High God, that always came first. To start with the Sunday routine was a Low Mass at 8.00am, Morning Prayer said at 10.30am, followed by the sermon at 11.00am, and the Sung Mass concluded all at 11.15am. There was a Catechism at 3.00pm and Evening Prayer at 6.30pm. From the first there was a daily Mass [at either 7.00am or 7.30am] and the Divine Office was recited daily also. Confessions were heard each Friday and Saturday. By the war, with the arrival of many curates [sometimes as many as three] there were more Masses and the classic Sunday horarium was established which lasted until comparatively recently: Low Masses at 7.15 and 8.00, High Masses with sermon at 11.00, Evensong and Benediction at 6.30pm.