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Events Calender

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Visit Of Blessed Bernard Silvestrelli CP
The visit of Blessed Bernard Silvestrelli in 1879 could only have been a cause of joy. Not only was he the Passionist Superior General and a very holy man but he had also been a classmate of St Gabriel of the Mother of Sorrows and so could have given both the novices and the professed Passionists many details about him.

Evesham
The Passionists opened a new mission ;>t tvesham in 1887 under the care of Father Alban Cowley. He was born at Upton-On-Severn on 27 January 1828 and educated at Hanley Castle Grammar School. On leaving school, he wanted to become a Catholic. His parents would not hear of it but in 1851 he arrived in Broadway and became a Passionist. In 1866 he was elected Rector of St Saviour's Retreat, an office he held until 1872. During those six years, genial, timid and kindly, he won the esteem of all whom he met. He next spent some time in Paris and then returned to Broadway. In 1887 he was given charge of the mission in Evesham. Thanks to the generosity of an Evesham Catholic, Mr Bicknell, who bequeathed two small houses for the founding of a Catholic mission, Father Alban was able to erect a small, iron, temporary church, which, on account of Our Lady's Apparition and Evesham's subsequent medieval abbey, was called "St Mary's". It was blessed by Dr Ilsley, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham on 21 April 1887. At that time there were eleven Catholics in Evesham. As, however, the Rector of Broadway, Father Chrysostom testified at Father Alban's funeral in 1891, "His meek, kindly and sympathetic disposition soon endeared him to all and won the respect and veneration of the inhabitants, at the same time disarming all hostility and jealousy." As a result, he soon received many converts, so that before he retired in 1891 he had a full congregation of eighty Catholics, with a number of others under instruction. He died a fortnight later in Broadway at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve, aged sixty-four. In his funeral homily, Father Chrysostom also said that Father Alban had made the mission in Evesham and nursed it through trying days. He had loved to watch it grow and he had looked upon those that were there as his children. Because of his zeal and affection he continued to work even when he could do it no longer. His people in Evesham clung to him. He was a priest amidst a faithful and loving people and so it was hard for him to leave them. They reciprocated his love and so he had been allowed to remain, until he broke down and came to his end. The Passionists continued to serve Evesham until it was placed under the diocesan clergy in 1897.

The Golden Jubilee Of 1900
In the meantime the Broadway parish had enjoyed the new initiatives of the introduction of the Apostleship of Prayer on 15 June 1889 and of the Sodality of the Children of Mary on the following 15 August. Otherwise, as it approached the Golden Jubilee of a Passionist presence in 1900, it followed the pattern of a well-established parish. The Golden Jubilee Celebrations began on 4 August, when Bishop Ilsley of Birmingham consecrated a new High Altar of stone and coloured marble, with a Tabernacle of alabaster and at the sides two small figures of St Richard and St Helena. On the front of the Altar was a bas-relief of the Ecce Homo, with the Passionist Sign at one side and the Passionist Rule at the other. The ceremony of Consecration, which began at 8 a.m. and lasted three hours, was, however, tinged with very real sadness, for this beautiful Altar had been donated by the mother of Father Richard Foy, Rector in Broadway from 1896-1899. He had devised it himself and in February 1900 he had travelled fjoin Paris to make the final arrangements, never thinking that he would never celebrate Mass at it, that he would be dead before its Consecration and that it would be consecrated as a memorial to him.

Apart from the new Altar, there were also new statues of St Joseph and St Anthony of Padua and Brother Mark Kangley redecorated the whole church. As it was reported in the Passionist Record of St Joseph's, Highgate, "For Altar-piece, Brother Mark has reproduced the old picture of St Paul of the Cross with new and added beauties and in the side spaces he has given us groups of angels, whose ethereal loveliness and wonderful perspective must be seen to be appreciated. Every part of the church, even the ceiling, has felt the magic touch of his transforming hand, making it lightsome, glowing and devotional." As a finishing touch, the floor and steps of the sanctuary were covered with a splendid pile carpet, presented by Mrs Mackay. During the Consecration Mass Miss Mary Jewsbury, soprano, sang the Ave Maria. She again enhanced the ceremony the following day, when Bishop Ilsley administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to between twenty and thirt-f-, candidates, including adults, a sure proof of the growth of the Catholic Faith in Broadway. This time the choir was also enriched by some other well-known friends of the Passionists, Miss Marguerite Cell, contralto; Leonard Browne, tenor; and Samuel Jewsbury, bass. On this occasion they all sang the Ave Verum, with Charles Slatter at the organ.

St. Saviour's Church, 1900
St Saviour's Church, 1900

On Monday, 6 August 1900 the first Catholic bazaar ever held in Broadway was opened by Mrs Navarro, accompanied by her husband and little boy, to raise money for the renovations. Mrs Navarro was Mary Anderson, who had captivated London audiences as a Shakespearian actress. On her marriage to Antonio de Navarro she had retired from the stage and the couple had come to live at Court Farm in Broadway. They were generous benefactors to the Passionists. Their only son, also Antonio de Navarro was educated at Downside and King's College, Cambridge and was the first Catholic Fellow of Cambridge University since the Reformation.41 On the Monday evening, at 5.30 p.m., the children performed Snow White. The bazaar continued on Wednesday, 7 August when it was opened by Lady Agnes Noel, accompanied by Lord Gainsborough. Altogether it made a profit of £200.42.

The Passionist Retreat, 1908
The Passionist Retreat, 1908

Finally, on 15 September there was a concert in Evesham Town Hall, organised by Mrs Navarro, once more "Mary Anderson charming and bewitching as in the days gone by when the fair actress cast a magic spell over the thousands who thronged to see her." She was joined by Joseph O'Mara, tenor; Arthur Grove, baritone; Miss Fanny Davies, pianist; Henry Lewis, violinist; and ' Mr A. Putnam, harpist, all performers who had gained high distinctions in the musical world; as well as by the composer, Mr J.M. Coward, organist at the Crystal Palace, who played an organ solo. There was a very large attendance and full agreement that it was the best concert ever given in Evesham.43 In all, as the Passionists celebrated their Golden Jubilee in Broadway, the people in the whole area must have been aware of the great impact they had made in those fifty years, for by 1900 Campden and 2v%sham were independent parishes and the Catholic population in Broadway itself had grown to two hundred and fifty.



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