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The Holy Family Parish : A History

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Holy Family Parish came into existence in 1931 when Bishop Doubleday sent Fr. John Petit (later to become Bishop of Menevia) to start a new Mission. Fr. Petit found accommodation in a council house in Porters Avenue and began to say Mass for the Catholics of the area every Sunday in any hall that could be obtained.

Fr. Petit was succeeded in 1932 by Fr. Vincent Dutton. In that year permission was granted for the use of St. Georges Clinic as a Mass Centre, where the people worshipped regularly every Sunday until the completion of the Church in 1934. Catechism classes were also held in the Clinic immediately after Mass, and in May 1932, a group of children made their First Holy Communion in the hall with a breakfast to follow in the home of their Catechists, Miss Smith-Piggot and Mrs Frankish in Westfield Road.The erection of the Church and Presbytery at this time was made possible by a gift (from an anonymous donor) of a large sum of money. Under the capable supervision of Fr. Dutton the work went forward, and in 1934 the church was opened by Bishop Doubleday. Fr. Dutton continued his labours at Holy Family until ill-health forced him in 1950 to take over the charge of a less onerous parish.

Fr Michael McKenna (who became Mgr. Mckenna) took over the parish in 1950 and was replaced by Fr. Bernard Wakeling in 1954. Fr. Mckenna erected the marble High Altar and Baldachino and also the marble altar and what is now the Lady Chapel. Fr. Wakeling was responsible for the marble Altar in honour of Our Lady which was placed on the right hand side of the Sanctuary; also for the beautiful Lourdes Plaque which is now in the Porch.
While Fr Wakeling was parish priest and Fr. Christopher Creede (who became vicar General) was his assistant, the Church was consecrated by Bishop Patrick Wall on the 13th November 1958.

There are still around and still working, members of families who were here at the very beginning of the parish who did so much to get it going. Names like…Delaney; Baker; Pooley; Gosling and Layton will long be remembered in Holy Family, as they already must have often been  remembered in the Masses offered by the Priests who served the parish.


 I wonder where are these little Angels now?

Holy Family has given five priests to  the Diocese and of these we are very proud. Fr.Drea in 1959 ; Fr. George Towler 1962; Fr. Conrad Smith 1963; Fr. Gerald Gosling 1959 and Fr. David Clemens 1992. With the prayers of the priests and the many, many good families in the parish today, we are confident that this number will be added to in the future.

No words of any parish priest could convey the debt of gratitude this parish owes to the sisters of the Brentwood Ursulines. Their devotion to the care of the children who have attended St. Joseph’s School over the past 70 years is surely the cornerstone on which the present day parish of Holy Family is built.

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    The Presbytery,
    Oxlow Lane,
    Dagenham, Essex.
    RM9 5XJ

    Tel: (020) 8592 1634

    Office open Mon-Fri 9:30-12:00

    Meetings by appointment only.