History of the Catholic Church in Coventry link
In 1944/5 Mass was first celebrated in the parish by Mgr.Emery Parish priest of St Elizabeth’s church Foleshill in an industrial hostel.
On 20th January 1946 Mgr. Emery celebrated Mass in the new Masser Road community centre.
In 1948 Mgr.Emery bought a house, 44 Roland Avenue.
When Canon (then Fr.and a curate at St Elizabeth’s) Diamond was sent to found a parish in the area, he lived in this house. Weekday Masses were celebrated in the conservatory of the house, and at the weekend Masses were at Masser Road community centre.
The Parish of Holy Family was officially and formally established on 1st September 1951
The temporary building, known affectionately as ‘The Hut’ (it was a black wooden structure similar to those used as army huts) opened for Midnight Mass in December 1952. The temporary building was also used as two classrooms for 80 children.
The Beake Avenue/PennyPark Lane site was purchased on which to build a church, church hall, house and school.
The church is on the junction of Beake Avenue and Penny Park Lane. The parish also spreads out containing parts of Coundon, Keresley, Radford, Holbrooks, Foleshill and Longford.
The primary/junior School was built in 1955 .
The Hall was built in 1957/8 and the extension in 1978/9.
The presbytery was built in 1958.
Permission for the building of the new church was given by Archbishop Grimshaw in November 1964. Plans were drawn up in 1964, lanning permission obtained in 1965. In 1965, construction began on the new church. Most of the cost was raised from the parishioners, who also to save money gave their time and labour.
The Foundation stone was laid by Archbishop George Patrick Dwyer on the feast of Corpus Christi 9th June 1966.
The church seats about 850 people.
The church was officially opened on 1st July 1967 by Archbishop Hyginus E. Cardinale, Papal Delegate to great Britain.
On 31st august 1974 the parish went into a period of great mourning as Fr Diamond was tragically killed in a Road accident.
Fr Diamond’s body is buried under the Lady altar in the Church.
The Hall extension was built in 1975/6
Parish Priests since Canon Diamond
1974 -1981 Canon B. McKenna
1981 – 1986 Fr.W. Boyle
1986 – 2004 Fr. A.E. Donlon
2004 – present Fr. D.J Devenney
1954 – 1960 Fr Molloy 1960 – 1966? approx Fr McDonnel 1960 – 1966 Fr Eamon Clarke 1966 – 1972 Fr Pat Killgarif 1970 – 1977 Fr Oliver Kemp ???? -???? Fr McPartland 1972 – 1973 Fr John Berry 1975 – 1981 Fr Gerry Hanlon> 1975 – 1978 Fr Eric Morgan 1979 – 1980 Fr Aldo Luigi Tapparo 1980 – 1984 Fr Michael Cottrel 1984 – 1985 Fr Kevin Preston 1981 – ??? Fr Eric Woodhead 1985 – 1989 Fr Michael White 1989 – 1993 Fr John Laybourn
Other priests (curates and assistant priests who served in the Parish).
In 1989/90 Fr Donlon Refurbished the inside of the church. The walls were painted of white, replacing the rather dull grey, new carpets fitted. The sanctuary area was altered extensively and a new smaller altar installed. The choir stalls behind the altar were removed and the choir now sings from upstairs in the ‘Choir loft’ at the back of the church. The Stained glass window was installed, which together with the repainted walls made the church interior much brighter. The new ‘Stations of the cross’ were commisioned completed and installed. New lighting was also installed, as well as being brighter, the new lighting has warm yellowish glow which makes the church feel warmer. The PA system was renewed, so now we have both static and radio microphones and amplification for the choirs and a ‘Loopsystem’ for the hard of hearing.
Building of the Church
An old parishioner recalls that one day he heard that the new priest Fr Diamond had bought a piece of land on the corner of Penny park Lane and Beake Avenue. All were amazed because this was scrub land and very marshy. The parishoner went to the piece of land and saw Fr Diamond with a spade. ” What are you doing?” asked the old parshoner. I am digging the foundations of our new church he says. The parishoner replied “Fr. it will take until he year 2000 to do that, have a rest and come back tomorrow” The next day Fr Diamond arived with his spade to find several mechanical diggers and JCBs engaged on the task and many parishoners.
Because of the danger of mining subsidance great deal of extra foundation work had to be done before the church could be built.
Mick took these pictures, possibly in the winter of 1965 possibly before Christmas and has kindly agreed to them being used on the parish Website.
Opening of the Church
The church as built and opened in the reign of Pope Paul VI.He was represented at the opening by the ‘Apostolic Delegate’ His Excellency Hyginus E. Cardinale DD JCD.
His Grace George Patrick Dwyer Archbishop of Birmingham was also present.The ceromony began with the blessing of the exterior of the church by the Apostolic delegate.
As tthe procession entered the church, the cantors and congregationrecited the Litany of the Saints.
While the Apostolic delegate blessed the inside of the church, all sang ‘The church’s one foundation.
The Apostolic delegate went into the sacristy to prepare for Mass as all sang ‘Happy we, who thus united’
The votive Mass for the feast of ‘The Precious Blood’ was then celebrated.
The offertory Hymn was ‘O king of might and splendour’
The Hymns sang at Holy Communion were ‘Soul of my Saviour’ and’O Godhead hid, devoutly I adore thee’.
The recessionl hymn was ‘Now thank we all Our God’