Welcome to St Joseph's & Holy Family Catholic Churches in Sale
About St Joseph's & Holy Family Catholic Churches
Our parish of St. Joseph’s & Holy Family, Sale started with very small beginnings one hundred and fifty years ago in 1860, when Sale, as such, did not exist. Washway Road ran north-south and to the west was a large area of moorland known as Sale Moor. The Manchester to Altrincham Railway was completed in 1848. Later Sale station opened giving opportunities for employment and houses were built nearby for workers.
A priest from Altrincham would come to hear confessions on Friday evenings in the house of Mr Maher, a labourer from Tipperary. From 1860 onwards Mass was said here, probably monthly, but the room held only fifteen people. In 1866 a school-chapel dedicated to St. Joseph was built on a plot of land in Hope Road.
Father Michael Crawley was appointed parish priest in 1870 and he came to live at 1 Alma Terrace. He served in the parish for thirty years during which time the area became known as Sale and the population grew rapidly. A large crucifix had been given to the school-chapel which was originally placed outside, but it was stolen and thrown in the canal. When returned it was hung inside the chapel. Father Crawley later moved to 33 Hope Road, which was adjacent to the school-chapel. Heathcote and Rawle were commissioned to design and build a church on the plot of land next to the school-chapel on the corner of Hope Road and Montague Road. The foundation stone was laid by the then Bishop of Shrewsbury, Bishop Knight, in May 1884 and it was opened the following May 1885. Once the church was opened he school-chapel then became the school. The church was of Accrington brick in a very simple Romanesque-early gothic style, the old crucifix being hung on the east wall over the high altar. A plot of land to the east of the church was purchased and a school built there in 1899. With the new school in use, the old school-chapel could be knocked down and a presbytery built on the site in 1900.
Father, now Canon Crawley, was a widely respected member of local society. To help with the increasing size of the parish and in view of his ill-health the Bishop sent a curate to help him – Father Michael O’Reilly who was to serve in the parish for forty odd years. When he died in 1909 such was the regard in which he was held that people lined the streets and the funeral cortège was taken on an extended route to Brooklands Cemetery so that people could pay their respects. A monument, paid for by public subscription, was erected over his grave as a testament to the esteem in which he was held. The inscription reads “This memorial is erected by all his friends, of all denominations, in admiration of a Christian and a gentleman.”.
His successor Canon Craig, who died after two years, was replaced by Father Bernard Thompson in 1913. The Baptistry was added to the church in 1922 in memory of the men of the parish who had been killed in the First World War, their names being recorded in the stained glass door. The east end of the church was extended by Heathcote and Sons in time for the consecration of the Church in 1930. The extension completed the original plan of the church with a sanctuary, two side-chapels and additional rooms connecting the church with the presbytery. Father O’Reilly who had moved to Oswestry in 1926, returned tin 1929 for the opening of the extension owing to Father Thompson’s ill-health. The Church was consecrated in the summer of 1930 but sadly Father Thompson did not live to see this. Bishop Singleton was also ill so the ceremony was performed by the Bishop of Menevia. Eight oak panels behind the high altar depicted Eucharistic themes. In the panels were paintings of martyrs from Shropshire and Cheshire who had died in penal times; these were painted by Sister Margaret Rope who was a well known stained-glass artist. A pulpit and new Stations of the Cross were added at this time.
Celebrations for the Golden Jubilee of the church in 1935 included congratulations to Father O’Reilly now parish priest who was made Canon at this time. The decoration of the sanctuary and side chapels had been completed together with new altar-rails. Stained-glass depicting the crucifixion had been installed in the east window. The purchase of Marlborough Club at this time provided more facilities for the school and parish. Canon O’Reilly died after more than forty years in the parish in 1948. A very popular parish priest, he was sadly missed and such was his popularity that the funeral procession, as that of Canon Crawley, was diverted down School Road and Washway Road. Again the route to Brooklands Cemetery was lined with people who wished to pay their respects to this much loved priest.
The years following the Second World War saw considerable expansion in the population of the parish which still consisted of Sale Moor, Sale, Ashton-on-Mersey, Carrington and Partington. The new parish priest was Father Andrew Campbell. Over the next twenty years, his considerable administrative abilities enabled him to create three new parishes – Our Lady of Lourdes, Partington; All Saints, Ashton-on-Mersey; and Holy Family, Sale Moor, each with their related primary school. In memory of Canon O’Reilly the organ and organ loft were reorganised. When a porch was added to the west door the old internal porch was removed, resulting in improved access to the church. At about this time another two rooms were added behind the sacristy improving facilities for servers and flower arrangers. As a result of liturgical changes introduced at Vatican II the sanctuary was re-ordered in the late 1960s.
Father John Marmion came as parish priest when Canon Campbell retired in 1975 but who came out of retirement to lay the foundation stone of the new Saint Joseph’s Primary School in 1976. The Centenary of the church was celebrated over twelve months 1984-1985. There were many events, large and small, including celebrations when Father Marmion was inducted as Canon and Bishop Gray coming for the Centenary Mass, with a reception afterwards. During the Centenary Year the parish raised £33,000 for the Third World.
Monsignor Canon Walton replaced Canon Marmion in 1992 and stayed until he retired in 2007 when Father Stephen Woolley came to us.
The parish expanded to include Holy Family in Sale Moor on 11th February 2013.
This seems to bring our story of the parish full circle and a good point to end. Hopefully our short account tells something of the parish’s story and something of the fidelity of priests and parishioners over 150 years as the parish continues to thrive and go from strength to strength.