Consecration of St Mary’s

The congregation at the consecration
The congregation at the consecration

The bell of St Mary’s – the voice with which the Church speaks to the faithful is the old bell from St Leonard’s, melted down with another bell which had been given to the old church, and re-cast by the bell-founders, Messrs Mears and Stainbank, as a single 4 cwt bell, sounding E flat. The inscription on the bell read: ‘Our Lady of Kenton, 1936.’ Presumably the bell was christened at some time, but there is no record of that. She speaks to the parish daily in the Angelus, honouring the Incarnation morning, noon and night; also at the elevation of the Host and Chalice at each Mass, so that those unable to come to Mass can unite themselves with those present at the Sacrifice; she tolls for the dead; she summons to prayer on Sundays and great feast days; and on days of Exposition [such as Christ the King] she speaks each hour to stir up the lazy and encourage the pious. The Priests of the parish are well aware what a great comfort to any Our Lady of Kenton is, for she can be heard for quite a distance.

One last section remains to be written in this part of the history of St Mary’s. On the 9th of April 1937, Fr Johnson sailed for Nassau and the Bahamas to preach a mission. On St George’s day, a fortnight later, his mother died in Kenton. She had been a constant inspiration to him, and indeed to the parish. During her long life she had lived through the days of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England. As a girl she could remember praying for Fr Tooth, imprisoned for the True Faith. She was born in Kirby Underdale, Yorkshire, on the 12th January 1857, one of a family of twelve, whose parents were strong supporters of the Church. She was married in York, and was a regular communicant at All Saints, North Street, from the beginning of the incumbency of the saintly Fr Pat Shaw. She had five children of whom the first two, both girls, died in infancy. The others were boys, and all survived her. She was very much missed. There is a window commemorating her connection with St Mary’s in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel; it is a window to the south, showing her in mediaeval costume at prayer with St Mary’s behind her.