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Thursday, March 23, 2017
Consecration of the Church of St Vincent de Paul, Osterley
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¬†On Saturday 24 October the parishioners of the parish of St Vincent de Paul in Osterley, West London, celebrated the consecration of their new church, the first new church in the diocese this millennium. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor was the main celebrant assisted by Fr Mark Leenane, Parish Administrator, and concelebrating clergy from Hounslow deanery. The new church is designed in the round with a pitched roof fitted with floor to ceiling windows. There is a tower which is surmounted by a 2m high iron cross gilded by Sister Bernadette Crook (the parish's resident artist). This provides a notable landmark for the neighbourhood, the tower is also used to ventilate the church which is a sealed building to combat aircraft noise. The cross was salvaged by the Diocesan Surveyor Chris Fanning from an old orphanage, which was served by the Daughters of Charity in Mill Hill for over one hundred years, until its closure in the 1970's. This subsequently served as a retreat and conference centre for several years thereafter and was known as 'Damascus House'. The interior of the church, with seating for 350, has a gentle slope down to the sanctuary with new benches supplied by Irish Contract Seating. The simple altar, the font, the lectern and the mount for the tabernacle are of the same attractive marble and a new and impressive painted crucifix (commissioned from Sister Bernadette) hangs over the sanctuary. The tabernacle came from Campion House Seminary which closed in 2004. The church features an aumbry for the sacred oils, located in the wall to the left of the sanctuary. There is a large narthex (gathering area), and a lobby linking the hall, presbytery and church. The old church, which was built as a hall, and which served the parish for seventy years has been refurbished and equipped with a new kitchen. The Consecration of the church took place during the normal Vigil Mass at 6pm. By that time the church was buzzing with excitement. After provision had been made for the visiting clergy, official guests and less mobile parishioners, it took expert stewarding to ensure that all those attending were seated ≠ if somewhat closer to each other than normal! The congregation, supported by the musicians and singers led by the parish Chair Luigi Fulgoni and our new organ did full justice to the opening hymn as priests and servers preceded the Cardinal down the central aisle to the sanctuary. A drawing of the Church was presented to the cardinal by the Architect Mr Jos Townend and a master key of the church was presented by Mr Martin Emslie of James Adam Construction and the Chair of the Building Committee Mr Mohsen Zikri. The Cardinal then blessed the church and congregation from the font. The Order of Service helped the congregation to follow the special features of the consecration as the Cardinal placed relics of the saints in the floor below the altar, anointed the altar and the twelve crosses on the walls around the church, lit a bowl of incense on the altar (which set off our fire alarm!!) and lit the twelve consecration candles on the walls. In his homily and final address, the Cardinal congratulated us on our new church, but reminded us that we parishioners are the church and are called on to provide an example in an increasingly secular society. 'Sing of the Lord's Goodness' provided a very appropriate recessional hymn. Afterwards, there was a reception organized by the Social Committee. The Cardinal cut a decorative cake made by Naomi Fernandes, and Neil Kieran provided an eclectic mix of background music on the accordion. Parishioners and visitors were able to admire the refurbished hall, putting the level of the roof in some danger by the level of conversation. Next day the parish began its long haul towards its centenary in December 2036! Cardinal Cormac said: "The opening of the new parish church of St Vincent de Paul demonstrates the strength of the thriving Catholic community in Osterley. I am delighted that Osterley now has such a splendid new church which will make it possible for the parish to accommodate all its worshippers and also enable it to further strengthen its spiritual life."
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