1920’s: A Church for Kenton

The Old Vicarage
The Old Vicarage

[The present arrangement may be of interest as it shows how changing needs can be met; Mass at 8.00am, Family Mass with hymns at 10.00am, Solemn Mass with sermon at 11.00am, Mass at 5.30pm, Evening Prayer and Benediction at 6.00pm. During the week at least 14 public Masses are offered as well as a certain number of private ones, all this being in addition to the Divine Office, baptisms, weddings, funerals, confessions, and Guild and Confraternity services such as Rosary, Holy Hour and Benediction.]

Parochial organisations in these early formative years at St Leonard’s included the Boy Scouts [the 1st Kenton, St Leonard’s – now St Mary the Virgin – Troop] who also celebrate their Golden Jubilee this year; the Farthing Fund, which raised well over £60.00 for altar linen [remember 4 farthings to a penny, 960 to a pound, and you will see what a work of supererogation Mrs Thorogood undertook for many years!]: the Free-Will Offering Society; the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa [a much loved cause in the parish owing to its support of Fr Lury in Zanzibar]; the Holy Family Homes; the Mothers’ Union; and the Sunday School. It was quite obvious that these represented a basic spiritual life that was thriving, and that it should soon have a permanent home. Fr Johnson was determined that Kenton’s Church should be the best possible, full of the loveliest things, free of debt, and enshrining in the Blessed Sacrament reserved within it the loveliest of all God’s gifts to men, His Holy Son. It is only from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament that the Faithful can draw those waters that well up into eternal life: Fr Johnson spent his 37 years in Kenton repeating those true words to those who would not hear as well as those who heeded their Priest, and his life bore out the truth of his own advice. Even the children were expected to play their part in a life of love and sacrifice. For many years there was a Toy Service in the New Year, at which the children of middle class Kenton brought to church toys in good repair in order that those less fortunate than they should have decent toys at Christmastide – decent toys, we notice the Johnsonian emphasis, not the left-overs and toys incomplete or in disrepair. The address at at least one of these services was given by a Mr Pilgrim, on behalf of the London Police Court Mission. His name is remembered in Kenton, for as Fr Pilgrim he supported Fr Johnson and the parish through its darkest years.