The Parishes of St Joseph and St Charles
Parish Histories
The beginnings of St Joseph’s parish are rooted in a religious development in the area of Woodhouse which took place early in the nineteenth century. In 1814, the Wesleyan Methodists opened a chapel in Woodhouse. In 1836 an independent chapel was built and St James’ Parish Church was established in 1878. Alongside this, Catholic schools were being opened and the Notre Dame sisters arrived in 1854.

The area had been served by Catholic priests for some time, with the first Mass being celebrated there in 1867. From 1870, this was in a Mission House near Woodhouse Hall on Stubbin Lane (now Stradbroke Road). The area was treated as a mission area and continued as such until the foundation of St Joseph’s church and the appointment of Fr. Adrian van Roosmalen as its parish priest.

The Duke of Norfolk was a much respected patron of Catholicism in the area and had met van Roosmalen on the continent. The priest was convinced that his calling lay in England and the Duke, impressed by van Roosmalen’s conviction, promised him that if he was indeed sent to England, the duke would provide a church, presbytery and school.

The foundation stone of the new church was laid on Wednesday August 17th, 1879 by the Bishop of Leeds, Bishop Cornthwaite and he performed the opening ceremonies on June 7th, 1881.

Fr. Van Roosmalen developed the parish into the 20th century with the assistance of Fr. Timothy Moynihan and later Fr, Arthur Kay who took over as parish priest upon the death of van Roosmalen in 1924. Fr. Van Roosmalen is buried in the church cemetery (as is Fr. Kay).

A number of groups were commissioned by Fr. Kay during his tenancy. A men & boy’s choir under the leadership of Mr Harold Cable, The S.V.P. was organised by Dr. W.O’Brien of Woodhouse and two Sisters of Mercy arrived to run the school until the first headmistress, Miss Annie Barker, took on the role.

The architectural change to the church was boosted by the work of Fr. Kay’s successor, Fr. Moynihan, who returned to the church where he had been a curate. Stained glass windows were put in over the Sanctuary and the Lady chapel, the sanctuary was re-designed and new altars installed.

These changes were partly funded from Canon Moynihan’s institution of Irish , Old Time and Modern dances in the school hall – events long talked about and remembered over the years.

Between 1965 and 1975 Fr. William McShane was the parish priest and whilst the church was, in general, the way we find it today, he had to cope with the large debt that was St John Fisher’s school, built at Woodhouse as well as finding the funds to re-roof St Joseph’s.

St Theresa’s parish was founded in 1934 but there was a small mission church and school on the site from 1927. A number of Catholics in the area had talked about the possibilities of having a parish on the Manor for some time. The area was bounded by St Joseph’s, St Charles’, St Wilfrids and St Marie’s but each meant an amount of travel for those who lived on the Manor.

After consultation with Canon Dolan at St Marie’s, they obtained his approval for the proposal. After negotiation with the Education Authority, permission was received to use a small hut and Mass was said there in a collapsible wooden table for the altar and a chalice and vestments supplied by Canon Dolan – items that were then stored in the house of a local parishioner.

The 120 people in attendance created an intimate atmosphere in such a confined space but one of great joy. Preparation for the sacraments, training of altar servers and teaching the Catechism were all undertaken by attendees and spiritual growth was encouraged by all. Funds were raised via dances, concerts and socials to maintain the building.

Eventually the small church (today the parish hall) became too small and so the decision was taken to build a larger church in 1958. The new church was completed in 1960 and was dedicated on 3rd October 1967. Despite the many challenges it has faced, the church and community is still strong with a deep sense of history.
St Joseph’s Altar Old and New
Some Former Parish Priests
Arthur Kay
William McShane
Timothy Moynihan
Adrian van Roosemalen
Michael Keegan