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|2418: Our Lady
of Lourdes, Hackenthorpe, Sheffield, England
Worshipper: Don Bosco, accompanied
by the Dowager Duchess Theresa.
Lady of Lourdes, Hackenthorpe, Sheffield, England.
A red brick church, completed in 1956, inspired by German churches
of the early 1930s. It strikes as very much "built on a budget."
Just 17 years after the church was completed, the altar was
brought forward and the pulpit removed, leaving an area of the
original mosaic floor unfinished. Fortunately, the design was
finished in time for Holy Week in 1973. The sanctuary reordering
spared the marble altar rails and tabernacle above where the
altar used to stand. The pulpit is new, made from what appears
to be tastefully carved wood. The plastered interior has been
painted light blue. Lengthy windows allow the church to be light
and airy. There are several modern stained glass windows. Traditional
style Stations of the Cross can still be found on the walls
in the nave. The baptistery has been jarringly converted to
a kitchen, with the font plonked unceremoniously in the aisle
at the west end.
The parish incorporates St Anthony's Church in Gleadless (now
the chapel of ease for the parish). It is also attached to St
John Fisher Primary School and Beighton Hospital. The pew sheet
suggests plenty of faith-based groups throughout the week, including
toddlers' groups, youth activities, and their Guild of St Stephen.
Hackenthorpe is part of the historical township of Sheffield.
The church is located in a maze-like residential area that sprang
up in a hurry in the the 1950s to accommodate families who moved
to Beighton to work in the steel foundries. Local legend has
it that the surrounding fields are haunted by the ghosts of
fighting soldiers. Indeed, ethereal bells can be heard near
the primary school during the night.
The Revd Paul O'Hara, parish priest, was celebrant. An unnamed
deacon of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
proclaimed the gospel and preached. The well-trained two acolytes
and third server wore white and blue albs.
The date & time:
Sunday, 22 July 2012, 10.30am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Just over a quarter full in a building that could seat about
Did anyone welcome you personally?
We were warmly greeted by four people. Despite the genuine smiles, it was a little intimidating.
Was your pew comfortable?
Standard issue "one hour maximum stay" pews. They did the job.
How would you describe the pre-service
The choir were practicing and the church resembled a very loud
coffee shop, right up to the bell announcing the entrance procession.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good morning, Father" followed five minutes later by "In the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
What books did the congregation use during the
Hymns Old and New; The Order of Mass (New Translation);
and a leaflet with the parish notices and mass intentions for
What musical instruments were played?
A small but real organ accompanied a choir of sorts. A tambourine
was used when rehearsing but, praise God and his saints, did
not sound during mass.
Did anything distract you?
Throughout, one of the choir attempted loudly to add her own
harmony more or less down a third (her accuracy varied). The
Dowager Duchess noted that the singers' voices fell short of
angelic, sapping the life out of the songs, which made it difficult
to join in. I was perturbed by soaring paper aeroplanes flung
by children who ran riot during the eucharistic prayer.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
Middle-of-the-road said mass with songs, celebrated versus
populum. No smells, but sanctus bells chimed at the appropriate
moments and the clergy wore tasteful Gothic vestments with a
pinch of lace.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
7 The deacon started with a nonsensical anecdote about
leaving his typed homily at home on Saturday, with his wife
having to dash back and get it (effectively admitting to recycling
a homily)! He read from a script but managed to avoid talking
monotone or akin to the female impersonation artists of fond
memory, George Logan and Patrick Fyffe, and their elderly spinster
personae known as Hinge and Bracket.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
The prophecies of Jeremiah are a cause for rejoicing for the
Christian people. We are in fact spiritual beings, and therefore
need to find time for silence and time with Christ. It is there
that he gathers us and prepares us for something greater, drawing
us to himself. We should remember that society ignores this
need for silence and presence of God. But the fact is, we cannot
do anything for ourselves we need Christ.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
Singing a traditional Marian hymn after the dismissal.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
"Kumbaya" the "other place"-esque trump card!
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
We had to leave quickly for our own gathering. The parish priest
was standing at the door shaking hands with a smile as we left.
Always a nice touch.
How would you describe the after-service
Coffee seemed to be available in the former baptistery, but
as mentioned we couldn't stay.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 The parish is exactly what it should be: a welcoming
family parish. There is true faith. The young priest celebrates
mass reverently. Unfortunately, the noise and music would drive
me to distraction. I would attend a low mass here on Sundays,
but I don't think there is one.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
If I could block out the choir, yes.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The Dowager Duchess will remember trying to keep a straight face during the hellish singing.
I shall remember feeling comfortable enough to receive communion on my knees.
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