Sunday marked the golden jubilee of the opening of St Mary’s Catholic Church in West Street, Dunstable.
A special celebration mass was held and the church was full, with people travelling from as far afield as Nottingham and Portsmouth. Many parishioners who had not been to church for some time returned for the occasion.
The service was celebrated by the parish priest, Rev Fr Kieran Magovern, with Frs Jimmy Sheil, Harry Slowey and Padraig Regan. Canon Benny Noonan, the Dean of South Bedfordshire area, was also present.
The service started with a procession of all the youth groups in the parish and other church organisations.
During the service the young children sang about building community and showed a banner, pictured above right, they had produced. The offerings were brought up by representatives of those who were there 50 years ago – Bert and Pat Sackett, still active members in their 90s; Kathy Hopkins, daughter of Margaret Kirby, a long-standing parishioner now housebound; and Theresa McGlynn, granddaughter of the late Alf Duncan, who was among the original Catholics in the area who used to walk to Luton for mass.
The oldest person present was Mrs Phyllis Kaye, aged 98, pictured above. She still remembers playing the organ at the last mass in the old church and the first mass in the new one.
A display showed scenes of the opening of the church by Bishop Leo Parker of Northampton during a snowstorm. In contrast, Sunday’s ‘party’ took place in lovely warm sunshine. A buffet was provided by the Union of Catholic Mothers.