The Catholic Church of St. Thomas More at Exton Road, Iford, was opened on Monday 29th May, the ceremony of blessing being carried out by the Bishop of Portsmouth (the Rt. Reverend Mgr. W.T. Cotter)
This is the second time in six days the Bishop has been in Bournemouth in connection with the blessing of new Catholic churches, his previous visit being on Wednesday last, when a similar ceremony took place at the Church of Our Lady of Peace, in Douglas Road, Southbourne.
The Bishop was accompanied by the Rt. Rev. Bishop King, auxiliary Bishop of Portsmouth. A number of Priests from the surround district attended the ceremony and a large congregation was present.
Before the service in the church began, the Bishop, with the priests and choir, walked from the Sacristy to the front of the church in procession, and while the choir sang the Litanies outside the entrance, the Bishop went around the outside of the building and sprinkled the walls with Holy Water.
Afterwards in the church the Litany of the Saints was sung, and was followed by High Mass.
In a brief address to the congregation the Bishop reminded them that they had now, on that growing district, the opportunity of taking part in prayer and worship of the diocese, of keeping themselves watchful I their faith and of showing an example of the good life to their neighbours and their children.
He spoke of those who, by their work, their spiritual effort and their benefactions, had made the erection of the church possible. All should feel deeply thankful to them for providing that beautiful temple of God, in the parish of Corpus Christi.
The church, a brick structure in a modern Norman style, has been built at a cost of about £9,000 and will be served from the church of Corpus Christi, at Boscombe.
The foundation stone was laid on January 11th last. Over the entrance is a mosaic of St. Thomas More and inside the porch is the baptistry. Thus infants will be christened before entering the church proper.
The building contains one large nave and two wide aisles, with a beautifully designed sanctuary. The pillars are square and coloured in a pale cream, giving the interior a cool and spacious effect. The church with its gallery is capable of holding between five and six hundred people.
Catholics from different parts of the country have helped to provide it, ‘bricks’ having been contributed from various parts of East Anglia, Sussex, and Buckinghamshire, There is a large sacristy attached to the church and space is available for the provision of a presbytery at some future date.
The priests present at the blessing of the church were:- The Rev. Fathers Gibbons, Ingram, Ross, Triggs, Turner, Burrows, Flynn, Grieg, Hetherington, Sexton, Pinkman, Chappic, Leahy, MacSwiney, Campbell, Mayo and FitzMaurice.
The architect for the building was Mr. T.H.V. Scott FRIBA of Westminster and Brentwood. The mosaic over the entrance is the work of Mr. Gabriel Pippet.
Between two and three hundred people attended the stone-laying ceremony yesterday of the new Catholic Church of St. Thomas More at Iford, Bournemouth; which was performed by the bishop of Portsmouth, the Right Rev. Dr. W. T. Cotter, assisted by the Rt. Rev. Bishop King, bishop auxiliary of the diocese.
Headed by the Crucifix, the bishops and clergy in their robes entered the partly constructed building from Exton Road.
A service was held among the partly-raised walls and the scaffolding, during which the Bishop of Portsmouth sprinkled the place where the Sanctuary will be with Holy Water.
In laying the foundation stone, he scratched with the trowel six crosses on its surface and then walked around the structure, followed by the priests, sprinkling holy water as he went.
Beneath the foundation stone was placed a casket, inscribed on parchment together with sacred medals and coins of the realm.
PARISH KEY HISTORICAL DATES
1939 (Jan) First blessing of the church (while still under construction) by Bishops Cotter and King.
1939 (May) First Mass and opening ceremony.
Fr. P. Widdowson S.J. appointed first Parish Priest.
1946 Fr. R. Finnemore S.J. appointed Parish Priest.
1948 Priest’s house (42 Exton Road) purchased by Jesuits of Corpus Christi, Boscombe.
1949 Parish handed over to the Diocese of Portsmouth. Fr. J. Moore is appointed the first Diocesan Parish Priest. He takes up residence in the new presbytery.
1956/7 Parish Hall is built.
1957 Consecration of the church by Archbishop King.
1958 Fr. W. Dunphy is appointed Parish Priest.
1961 Fr. J. Moore celebrates his Silver Jubilee.
1963 Fr. J. Moore returns as Parish Priest.
1986 Canon J. Moore celebrates his Golden Jubilee.
1996 Canon J. Moore celebrates his Diamond Jubilee. He dies the same year in Ireland.
1996 (Jul – Dec) Parish is served by supply priests.
1997 Fr. T. Healy is appointed Parish Priest.
1998 (Sep) Fr. J. Parry is appointed Parish Priest.
1998 (Nov) Fr. J. Parry dies on the church premises.
1999 (Jan) Monsignor R. Hishon becomes Parish Priest.
2005 Reordering of the church. Creation of the Theresa Connolly Resource Room.
2006 Father S. Budden is appointed Parish Priest.
2009 Parish celebrates its 70th anniversary on May 29th.