Our Lady of Grace
Archbishop Kevin with Father Michael Leach
On Sunday, 17th September, Archbishop Kevin joined the Parish Priest, Father Michael Leach, and parishioners of Our Lady of Grace, Charlton, to celebrate the centenary of the opening of their church.
The establishment of the mission in Charlton and the building of the church have an interesting history. The harsh persecution of the Church in France at the turn of the nineteenth century included the suppression of the Assumptionist Order in 1900. A group of Sisters from this order, the Oblates of the Assumption, came to settle in Charlton in July 1903. They invited an Assumptionist priest from Bethnal Green to offer Mass in their convent (now the Priest’s House); the congregation consisted of the sisters, a local milkman, his wife and children. Within two months, 118 people (including Irish workers from the docks) were attending Mass.
Two of the sisters, Myriam and Julie Frank, converts from Judaism, built the church. They returned to Bordeaux in 1912.
Four Oblates of the Assumption - Sister Josephine, who had been a member of the Charlton parish community, with three other members of the order - were present at the centenary Mass of Thanksgiving.
Archbishop Kevin in his homily said that although many of the parishioners had not been born in Charlton, the parish community was the basis of their ‘sense of belonging’. They had become ‘the living stones’ of the parish.
The pastor of the Blackheath and Charlton Christian Fellowship, the Reverend Mike Leader, composed the Gloria that was sung at the Mass and played the organ. Father Michael Leach paid tribute to his ‘true generosity of spirit and ecumenism’.
Before the Mass ...
Archbishop Kevin greets parishioners after Mass
At the reception ...
Fun for the children ...
Archbishop Kevin and Father Michael Leach with Father James Kirby, Parish Priest of Shooter's Hill