History of St Patrick's Church
With thanks to Joe O’Reilly for permission to reproduce some of his History of St. Patrick's.
On January 8th 1866, Fr. Fortunatus Signini of the Fathers of Charity opened a school in Grangetown. This school (in the Brickyard as it was then called) was first used for Divine worship on July 11th 1869.
It was not however, until March 1873, that we have any record that this building was called St Patrick’s school. It served the needs of about 500 Catholics in the Grangetown district and the school had an average attendance of just over 100 children.
Cannon Hallahan arrived to take over the growing district of Grangetown in 1882 and immediately set to work and built the first Church which was opened on October 1st 1882. The Church was part of the old St Patrick’s school, (which was replaced in 1972).
In 1891 Fr. W.H. Brady became Parish Priest; he set himself the task of improving the school accommodation in 1897 and in 1901. Fr. Brady also realised that the Parish was growing and he secured a site for a new Church and presbytery in Grange Gardens. In May 1911 plans were drawn up for the building of the present presbytery which was completed in 1912. Meanwhile the site of the present Church was cultivated as allotments by two parishioners – Mr Michael Harrington and Mr Jeremiah Canty.
In 1916, Mgr. H. Irvine succeeded Fr. Brady and together with his curate, the Rev. Michael Davis he continued to raise funds for the building of the new Church.
In November 1921, the St Patrick’s Memorial Hall was opened in memory of the men of the Parish who died in the First World War.
In 1928, Mgr. Irvine was transferred and Canon F.H. Garret became Parish Priest. His Grace the Archbishop, Dr. Francis Mostyn gave Cannon Garret the immediate task of building the new Church at Grange Gardens.
The foundation stone was laid by the Archbishop on St. Patrick’s Day 1929 in the presence of about 4,000 men from all the Catholic parishes of Cardiff and a great concourse of people. Exactly one year later, on St. Patrick’s Day 1930, the new Church was opened.
Cannon Garret died in 1936 and he was succeeded by Canon Thomas Phelan. Under Canon Phelan the parish continued to develop and grow and became a spiritual force in the city.
When the Second World War began, the safety of his Church caused him to form a parish fire fighting group which gathered each evening in the vestry. Through the efforts of this unit in putting out fire bombs which fell on the roof, the Church was saved from destruction and Canon was always in the forefront.
After the war the nave of the Church began to show signs of of subsidence, but a massive job of reconstruction was put in hand at great cost. During all this time the Church was never closed for Divine Service.
Cannon Phelan died on November 13th 1970 and was succeeded by Canon C.P. Reidy who immediately made the consecration of the Church his first priority and on March 17th 1972 the consecration ceremony was performed by the Archbishop, Dr John A. Murphy. A new era in the history of St Patrick’s had begun.
Over the years there have been many priests who have joined the Parish of St Patrick. Some priests came as curates before taking on parishes of their own, and some who came as Parish Priests to St Patricks. All had their own individual style and own way of doing things.
However, during the times of Canon C P Reidy and Canon David O’Flynn the Catholic Church world wide was undergoing change.
During the Second Vatican Council in Rome in 1962, many of the customs, rites, services and even the way churches looked were under review. In the fullness of time, these changes filtered down to the churches in the Archdiocese of Cardiff and priests were encouraged to embrace these changes.
In St Patricks the altar rails and the large pulpit in the nave were removed and a new altar was placed in front of the high altar so that the priest could say Mass facing the people. One of the biggest changes however, was the fact that Mass could be said entirely in English instead of the main prayers and the form of the Mass said in Latin. This caused much discussion across the whole country. Many people liked the rhythm and the security of the Latin words and felt that the Church had lost some of its mystery and grandeur. However, parts of the Mass can still be sung in Latin on special occasions.
For a while, St Patrick’s Parish was administered by Mons. John Maguire from St Mary’s of the Angels’ Parish in Canton, and grateful thanks must be given to him for all his support during the difficult times following Fr Fahy’s death.
Fr Bogdan Wera was appointed by Archbishop Peter Smith as the next Parish Priest of St Patrick's Parish and he came with a community of Polish people who had outgrown the Chapel in Nazareth House. At the time the diocese was very short on priests and Fr Bogdan took on the challenge of ministering not only to the Polish Community, but to the English-speaking Community as well. In addition he had to travel to other towns in South Wales to support the Polish Communities there. Fr Bogdan had hoped to fulfil the wishes of Fr Fahy and have a hall built beside the Church. Sadly this was not to be.
Initially, Fr was supported by a series of Polish curates who helped him with his responsibilites but in the last few years he has managed alone.
With failing health he passed away on September 9th 2017, aged just 61.
Canon Michael Patrick Evans took on the role of Parish Priest of St Patrick's in September 2017, and his first responsibility was to make arrangements for the funeral of Fr Bogdan.
The bi-lingual Requiem Mass took place on Monday September 25th 2017 and was attended by more than 50 priests, many of whom had travelled from Poland to say their farewells.
Fr Michal Oszczudlowski took on the responsibility of ministering to the Polish Community and on the request of the Rector of the Polish Catholic Mission in London in consultation with the Archbishop of Cardiff George Stack, the Polish Community moved to the Parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Gabalfa Cardiff.