Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham presided and preached at the city’s St Patrick’s Festival 2011 Parade Day Mass, at St Anne’s Catholic Church, Alcester Street, on the First Sunday of Lent, March 13, writes Peter Jennings.
Mgr Canon Patrick, Browne, the parish priest, welcomed the archbishop on his first official visit to the parish, situated near the Irish Community Centre in Digbeth.
He also welcomed the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Len Gregory, the Lady Mayoress, and John McCullagh, counsellor at the Irish Embassy in London, and members of the Birmingham St Patrick’s Day Parade organising committee to St Anne’s for the Mass.
Mgr Browne, Fr Eamonn Corduff, parish priest of St Patrick’s, Wolverhampton, and Fr Dominic Cosslett, the archbishop’s secretary and master of ceremonies, con-celebrated the Mass with the archbishop.
During his homily Archbishop Longley said: “I am delighted to be with you today because this is such a special week in Birmingham for the Irish community and Digbeth is the historic centre of that community. The parish of St Anne’s has played a significant role in enabling generations of Irish men and women to feel at home in Birmingham.
The archbishop continued: “Our own Catholic community in Birmingham has its roots in the witness and vision of Irish Catholics who made Birmingham their home in the 19th century and in the years that followed. Thank you for the friendships and partnerships that you have developed with other faith communities here in the city. May this St Patrick’s Day bring many blessings to you and through your prayers to all the citizens of Birmingham.”
Blessed John Henry Newman founded the first English Oratory of St Philip Neri at Maryvale, near Birmingham, in 1848.
Fr Newman moved to Alcester Street, near the town centre, in February 1849, where he converted a disused gin distillery into a chapel and began his mission among the sick and poor of Birmingham.