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Events Calender

Page - 7

Halcyon Days
The 1950s were halcyon days, marked by the customary Clothings and Professions of the novices; by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on 6 February 1952, so that parishioners could join the community in praying for the deceased King George VI and for the bereaved Royal Family; and by a Triduum of Prayer for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. In 1958 the Passionists paid £900 for land at the side of the novitiate garden; on 4 November of the same year the Papal Flag flew over the retreat in honour of the Coronation of Pope John XXIII; and in brilliant sunshine on 21 June 1959 parishioners joined in the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Evesham, where Mass was said in the Abbey grounds. On 11 October 1962 the Second Vatican Council was opened by Pope John XXIII; he died on 3 June 1963; and on the feast of Christ the King, 27 October 1963, in all the splendour of the Council in St Peter's, Rome, Dominic Barberi was declared "Blessed".

The Second Vatican Council
Then came the changes of the Second Vatican Council. On the first Sunday in Advent, 29 November 1963, Mass was said in English instead of Latin. On the first Sunday in Lent, 1965, at the suggestion of the Rector, Father Augustine Lane, a Service of Prayer for Christian Unity was held in the Lifford Hall and was attended by three hundred and twenty Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists and Congregationalists. So far so good, but on 31 August 1965 the novitiate was moved to Minsteracres. The Passionist students arrived in Broadway to study at the Jesuit House of Studies at Heythrop, travelling twenty-four miles there and back each day in a minibus. In 1970, however, Heythrop moved to London and so the students left Broadway for Highgate. For the first time in eighty years there were neither novices nor students in St Saviour's.45 It was not only the monks who missed their young voices.
The Closing Of The Monastery
Even in 1970 few people, if any, would have foreseen an imminent spiritual desert but from 1968 vocations had been few and not everyone who had come had been able to persevere. Within a few years that dearth was felt in the missionary work of the Passionist Fathers. Next it was felt in all the Passionist retreats, as brethren died or had to retire from active work on account of old age. In 1979 it was decided to close St Saviour's Retreat on 4 January 1980, although Father Ambrose Sunderland would remain as Parish Priest, with Brother Alphonsus Miley as his assistant. The retreat house itself would be turned into private residences, whilst the Passionists would live beside the church and in St Joseph's Cottage.

A Vibrant Parish Community
As far as the parishioners were concerned, there was little apparent change. In 1982 Father Ambrose visited everyone in the parish, whilst Brother Alphonsus was indefatigable in taking Holy Communion to the sick and the housebound. In 1984 parishioners enjoyed pilgrimages to Blessed Dominic's Shrine in Sutton, to Evesham and to the Shrine of the English Martyrs at Harvington Hall. They had their usual Corpus Christi Procession. The church was redecorated both inside and out. In September the statue of the Sacred Heart was moved to a more devotional shrine in a recess at the back of the church; and there were collections for the Save the Children Fund and CAFOD. In September 1984, however, Father Ambrose had to spend a long period in hospital. Since it was clear that he would be unable to resume his very active apostolate as Parish Priest, he was moved to the Passionist retreat at Herne Bay. As the villagers told his successor, Father Francis McCaffrey, the whole of Broadway would not easily forget Father Ambrose's "flying figure on the bicycle" and his gentle kindness to the children was not forgotten either. Under Father Francis and Brother Alphonsus St Saviour's Parish remained a beehive of activity. In September 1984 Brother Alphonsus attended the Beatification of the Passionist Brother, Blessed Isidore in Rome. October devotions followed. More volunteers were sought for the Parish Committee. An appeal for the starving of Ethiopia raised £1,000 and at Christmas there was a bazaar. In spite of forbidding weather, a representative and enthusiastic congregation attended a Christian Unity Service on 25 January 1985 and for the rest of the year the parish followed a busy programme of May devotions, a Christian Aid Collection, a Corpus Christi Procession, an Appeal for the Apostleship of the Sea, the Harvington Hall Pilgrimage, the Nine First Fridays, a Harvest Festival organised by the children for the benefit of the elderly, an extension to the cemetery, a collection in November for the Columbia Volcano Disaster and a United Carol Service. The next year, 1986, followed much the same pattern, with the introduction, however, of a Good Friday Interdenominational Silent Vigil round a Cross erected on the Village Green from 12 noon until 3 p.m. There was also a summer fete. In brilliant weather in November the parish joined Brother Alphonsus in celebrating the Golden Jubilee of his Profession with a Mass of Thanksgiving. Father Francis pointed out how many of those years Brother Alphonsus had spent in Broadway, first from his Profession of Vows in November 1936 to December 1937, then from May 1951 until 1975 and again from 1979. He had in fact spent most of his religious life in Broadway; and he continued that apostolate until the late summer of 1987.

Further Changes
That year, 1987, marked the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the death of Dom Birdsall, the founder of a parish of which he might feel justifiably proud, as its outreach stretched to the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, the Catholic Rescue Society, the Catholic Housing Association and the Lepra Children's Fund. As Father Francis said Mass for the repose of Dom .11's soul he also thanked God for his parish. In March the Centenary e of the Women's World Day of Prayer was held in St Saviour's and in J ;ather Ignatius McElligott arrived in Broadway. Father Francis had come to Broadway for only three years and so in late ; also moved and Father Eugene Kennan arrived as Parish Priest. 

Further Liturgical Changes
With two priests, the parish continued to flourish. A new baptismal font ember 1987 paid its own tribute to the number of baptisms. One hundred ^enty people packed into the little church for Midnight Mass on Christmas d three hundred attended Mass on Christmas Day. From 27 January 1988 unicants were allowed to receive Holy Communion under both species. In ry Father Eugene started the Guild of St Stephen for the Altar Boys. In ie called a parish meeting to discuss how to involve as many parishioners ;ible in the life of the parish and how to enrich it with courses in Theology cred Scripture and with a variety of social events. There was a good ince of about eighty people. As a result, a number of parishioners offered ) around the church, to cut the grass, weed the garden and keep the ?ry tidy. Others were responsible for printing the parish bulletin, ;ing refreshments at parish functions, arranging flowers in the church, ing transport when needed, taking up the Sunday collections and cleaning urch. On 29 May 1988 Father Eugene commissioned the first five •dinary Ministers of the Holy Eucharist and on 13 July thirteen Readers. In the meantime a questionnaire had been distributed, with the result that lore people volunteered their services. On 10 July twenty-three people n pilgrimage to Blessed Dominic's Shrine in Sutton and on 21 August : group went to Harvington Hall. About the same time it was decided to se a new Altar in order to facilitate more of the liturgical reforms of the I Vatican Council. Father Richard Foy's Altar was left intact for the tion of the Blessed Sacrament, with the new Altar placed in front of it so : priest could say Mass facing the people. A parish social evening was well d on 7 October but only fourteen people attended the weekly lectures on Your Faith", given by Fathers Eugene and Ignatius from 14 September to mber. Between August and October, however, the parish contributed £535 >us good causes, including Age Concern, Prisoners and their Families and ian Disaster Fund; and in December a street collection organised by a oner, Ron Goodman and supported by members from all the local ;s, raised £528 to help earthquake victims in Armenia. Ecumenism, too, 'urishing. On Good Friday 1989 an Interdenominational Procession of s through the village preceded an hour's Silent Vigil round the Cross on the Green. On 16 July 1989 an impromptu suggestion from Father brought in £238 to help the Catholic Housing Association to provide for neless in England, whilst in December a public crib was erected by the the school-yard facing the Leamington Road as a reminder to a consumer of the real meaning of Christmas. 

The Last Decade Of The Century
The beginning of the last decade of the century saw its own highlights. On 10 June 1990 parishioners went on pilgrimage to Evesham and on the 16th to Littlemore, where in October 1845 John Henry Newman was received into the Catholic Church by Blessed Dominic Barberi. The pilgrims had Mass in the library, using for an Altar the writing-desk that Father Dominic himself had used for the celebration of Mass when Newman and his friends made their Profession of Faith and received Holy Communion. On 6 January 1991 Father Eugene preached in the full Passionist habit with mantle and Mission Cross at an Interdenominational Service of Dedication in the Methodist chapel to mark the Decade of Evangelisation. That year was a red-letter year for both Fathers Ignatius and Eugene as on 28 April they celebrated the Golden Jubilee of their Ordination to the Priesthood. It was also one hundred and fifty years since Blessed Dominic had arrived in England and so on 11 May the parishioners made a pilgrimage to Aston Hall and Stone. On 18 May they returned to Littlemore and on 28 July to Sutton. In August 1991 the headstones of Dom Birdsall and eight Passionists were cleaned and the lettering repainted. Then from 27-30 September there was a Triduum of Thanksgiving for the one hundred and fifty years of Passionist life and work in England and Wales, with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a Mass of Thanksgiving and Benediction, all very well attended. Finally, on 5 October forty-six parishioners went to Westminster Cathedral for the Pontifical High Mass to celebrate the Jubilee of Blessed Dominic's arrival.

In April 1992 the church was redecorated and in May a group from Broadway, with Fathers Eugene and Ignatius, took part in a pilgrimage to Rome and the Passionist shrines in Italy to mark the bicentenary of Blessed Dominic's birth in 1792. On 5 July a larger group took part in the bicentenary celebrations held in Sutton at Blessed Dominic's Shrine. Two days later, the Cause for the Canonisation of Father Ignatius Spencer was introduced by Archbishop Derek Worlock of Liverpool in Sutton. Later in the same month the kneelers in St Saviour's were re-covered. On 20 December 1992 the Christians of Broadway, led by the Pershore Youth Brass Band, sang carols in a torchlight procession through the village. In January 1993 a parishioner, Tony Holmes, took part in a 105-vehicle British Convoy of Hope with supplies for refugees in Croatia. On the feast of Our Lady's Assumption, 15 August 1993, the 10 o'clock Mass was celebrated in sign-language by Father Ignatius and Father Gerry Lennon, chaplain to the deaf in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, as twenty-five deaf people and their families and friends gathered in St Saviour's before touring the Cotswolds. In November the church organ was overhauled. Altogether, it seemed that the parish was well and truly alive but in December daily-Mass attendance reached an all-time low with only two parishioners present. What would Father Bernard O'Loughlin have said?

The highlight of 1994, for the whole Passionist family in these countries, was Archbishop Worlock's introduction of the Cause of Elizabeth Prout in Sutton on 18 May. In Broadway, on 1 July 1995 seventy-one parishioners went to Worcester Cathedral to celebrate the 900th anniversary of St Wulstan's foundation of the See of Worcester, by participating in the first Mass in the Cathedral since the Reformation. During the next year or so there were courses in the parish in leadership and Christian living; and in recent years Broadway Catholics have not been slow to protest at parliamentary legislation on euthanasia.48 Father Eugene also had the facade of the church sand-blasted to remove the grime of decades.

In 1997 Father Eugene was succeeded as Parish Priest by Father Aidan and eighteen months later he, in turn, by Father Malachy. They and Father Ignatius continued to serve Broadway faithfully, even in face of their own increasing age and disabilities and there have certainly been some very bright moments in recent history: participation in the Alpha Course, fraternals, Lenten meetings and lunches and prayer groups. In 1997 the sanctuary was reorganised to stress the three focal points of the Mass: the Altar, the Ambo and the Chair. A new Ambo was installed and the Chair raised on a platform with a special cushion made and donated by a parishioner. A small strip of ground in the graveyard was made available for the interment of ashes after cremation. To mark the Great Jubilee the church has again been repainted. It is therefore particularly sad that it is in this Great Jubilee Year and in the Jubilee of one hundred and fifty years of their ministry in St Saviour's, Broadway that the Passionists have to leave it. The village will be much poorer for their going, although rich in what they have given. The Jubilee, however, is a time of renewal, a period of grace for the Catholics of Broadway to see the meaning of their history. May this Holy Year also be a time of renewed hope and re-evangelisation.

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(The portion of the History is taken from the book "The Passionist Mission to St. Saviour's, Broadway 1850 - 2000" written by Sister Dominic Savio (Hamer) CP)



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