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ST. MARY'S CATHOLIC CHURCH. Shrewsbury Road, Shifnal
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Priest Fr John Pascoe
Retired Priests: Fr David Duggan and Fr John Wright
The Catholic 'mission' in Shifnal has an ancient
history, although it cannot be proved that Mass has been said here continuously
since the Reformation.
There was an old manor house belonging formerly to Lord Stafford and occupied at one time by members of the Jerningham family. Tradition has it that one of the rooms in it was a chapel.
In the 1840's and 50's, Shifnal was served by priests living at Madeley. When Fr V.Malloy was stationed there he used to come over occasionally to say Mass in High Street and also at Harriott Heyes in the house of a Mr Roberts, a farmer from Albrighton. Eventually the Catholic community met regularly at a poor lodging house on Broadway in Shifnal for Mass and Catechetical instruction. On June 30th 1855 the house was destroyed during an Irish riot. The following Sunday, the people assembled for their Mass in the open air among the ruins.
At the time the Catholic population was about
200. They approached Lord Stafford to see if he could help them. From January
1st 1856 he allowed £20 for the hire of a room for six months, £20 for a
school-master, and promised to build a school. This he did in 1860 on land which
he owned at the junction of Victoria Road and Shrewsbury Road. At the time it was
being used as a rubbish tip for Shifnal.
Lord Stafford built the existing building in 1860 as a week day school and week-end Church. The school closed in fact through lack of numbers about 1917, and has been used exclusively as a Church since then. The present Presbytery on Victoria Road was the original school-master's house, and indeed, still has Lord Stafford's coat of arms above the door. The Church and house remained under the patronage of Lord Stafford until 1960 when it was officially given to the Diocese of Shrewsbury/
The present Church was modified in the 1980's,
but still maintains much of its original style and beauty.
The Catholic population has now risen to about 800, which also includes the Catholics of Albrighton, which is now part of the geographical parish of St Mary's.
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