History of the Parish
Lady Anne Calverley was the daughter of Sir Christopher Danby of Farnley Hall some three or four miles from Pudsey; they too were Catholics who helped to keep the Faith alive in the district around the town. Lady Anne’s brother, Sir Thomas Danby, married Mary Neville, sister of the Earl of Westmoreland. He died in exile after the Rising of the North in 1569 failed to re-establish the Catholic Faith. Another local family, the Hoptons of Armley Hall, and who had intermarried with the Danbys, were also suspected of Catholicism in the early 17th century. However, by the early decades of the 17th century, most of these families had conformed through pressure of persecution, moved out of the district, or died out. For over two hundred years there are scarcely any records of Catholics living in the Pudsey area. For a few years in the middle of the l8th century, a Dominican priest, Fr. Hatton, was chaplain to Nicholas Tempest at Tong Hall to the south of the town, who had been converted to Catholicism in 1736.
Fr. Simpson, later to become a Canon of the Diocese, was ordained a priest in 1867 and was appointed almost immediately to St. Mary’s, where he was to remain until his death in 1913. He it was who, in 1883, obtained a room in Hammerton Field where Mass was said for the first time. Meanwhile, he had obtained land in The Lanes and in that same year work was begun on a school chapel to serve the needs of some three hundred Catholics by now said to be resident in the town. The Foundation Stone was laid by Canon Motler and the following Spring, the work was completed. On 19th April 1884, the new chapel was solemnly opened by Dr. Robert Cornthwaite, the Bishop of Leeds. The Mass on that occasion was celebrated coram episcopo by the founder of the church, Fr. Simpson, assisted by the priests and choir from St. Mary’s. The cost of the first St. Joseph’s was £1,200. When fully opened out, the chapel could hold 4OO but was able to be divided from the Sanctuary by screens and to provide two school rooms, one of which was specially set aside for the use of the infants.
In his diary, Father Hurkmanns records that the first marriage to be solemnised at St. Joseph’s, was on 24th August 1901, between Michael Daly and Emma Rider. Before this, couples had to go to St. Mary’s for the wedding. In the following July the Pudsey Mission was formally transferred to the Carmelite Fathers, yet despite this decision, their stay was to be short-lived. In September 1903, the Provincial of the Dutch Carmelites, Fr. Lambert Smeets, came on visitation to Pudsey and questioned the suitability of St. Joseph’s as a place for the order. However, it was another three years before the Prior General of the Carmelites, Fr. Pius Mayer, came to the parish, “to see”, as Fr. Hurkmanns wrote, “if Pudsey was a suitable place and if there were any prospects to establish a monastery”. After his two days visit in August 1906, he decided against the venture and began arrangements for the Carmelites to return to Holland and by the end of the year they had withdrawn from the scene. Nevertheless, they had pioneered the establishment of an independent parish and had begun to see the results of that work.
Fr Versteylen soon realised the need for a church building apart from the school and in March 1913, obtained from Belgium a timber framed temporary church, which was to serve the parish for the next twenty years. It was always Fr. Versteylen’s ambition to provide a worthy church for the Catholics of Pudsey and on 17th September 1932 the Foundation Stone of a new church was blessed and laid by Bishop Cowgill. A year to the day, the new church was opened, on l7th September 1933 - The church in rustic bricks and red-tiled roof, was built to the design of Charles Fox, a well-known architect of Dewsbury, who had designed a number of churches in the Diocese, including St. Peter’s, Bradford and St. Catherine’s, Sheffield. The High Altar was cut from Bolton Wood stone and the cost of the whole building was over £3,500. The account of the opening states hopefully, “there is a substantial amount outstanding”.
The opening was a memorable occasion for the Catholics of the district. Solemn High Mass was celebrated by their beloved priest, who had done so much for the building of the church. In the absence of the Bishop, the church was blessed by Fr. Vermeire of St. Patrick’s, Leeds and the sermon was preached by Canon Mitchell of the Cathedral. In the evening there was a special service, at which the preacher was Provost Russell of Keighley. Those who were present on this happy occasion could not but notice how frail the parish priest of Pudsey had become. His life work was now complete and only two weeks after the opening of the new church, Fr. Versteylen died, on 2nd October 1933, at the age of 61, having been parish priest of St. Joseph’s for twenty-five years.
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During his time in the parish, the numbers of Catholics continued to increase. The school managers were reported to be approaching the L.E.A. with the request for extra teaching staff, because of the increased number of children attending St. Joseph’s School. In 1946 plans were put in motion for the building of extra accommodation for the school. Indeed, in common with many parishes, the major concern of the Pudsey parish during these years was the provision of adequate Catholic education for their children.
In January 1953 Fr. Duane was appointed by Bishop Heenan, to St. Mary’s, Selby. He died there on the 21st November 1960.
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After demobilisation in 1946, he served at St Alban's (Denaby), St Austin's (Wakefield), St Joseph's (Dinnington) and then St. Thomas’s (Goole), before coming to Pudsey in January 1953. All these changes he accepted without question in a spirit of simple obedience, being happy to stay or content to go wherever he was needed.
Sadly, he was to be here at St Josephs, only two years. He died suddenly on 28th March 1955, in St Luke's Hospital, Bradford, at the early age of 45.
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Fr. Hewitt’s was appointed to St Josephs, Pudsey from 1955 to 1968, during which time he saw the extension of the presbytery in 1960.
In 1968 he was appointed to St Albans (Halifax) and in 1975 he retired to St Gabriel's (Horsforth). During the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of his ordination, in 1983 he was appointed Honorary Canon of the Diocese. He died on the 14th December 1985, in hospital at Ilkley.
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From 1946 until 1953 Fr Horkin served as a curate, first at St Clare's (Fagley, Bradford), then at Christ the King (Bramley, Leeds) and finally at All Saints (Otley). In 1953 he became the secretary of the Catholic Missionary Society in London. He returned to Yorkshire in July 1955 and was appointed to the parish of St John Fisher and St Thomas More at Burley in Wharfedale. Moving to St Robert's (Harrogate) in 1960, then to Dunsop Bridge (Lancashire) and later to St Michael's (Konttingley).
Fr. Horkin was appointed to St Josephs, Pudsey in October 1968, and found himself faced with the task of implementing changes, which came about as a result of the Second Vatican Council. The first undertaking was the re-ordering of the church in accordance with the new decree on the Liturgy. A new Blessed Sacrament chapel was added to the north side of the sanctuary and a new high altar in Sicilian marble was placed some 12 feet forward of the position of the old altar. The work was completed to the designs of J.B. Langtry-Langton Partners of Bradford and the new altar was consecrated by Bishop Gerald Moverley, the Auxiliary Bishop of Leeds, 18th October 1970.
Nor were the needs of the school overlooked, in 1969, work was commenced on providing further new accommodation for the children, a four classroom block, to the designs of Mr. George Doyle, the Leeds architect.
The Parish has long had a branch of the UCM (Union of Catholic Mothers). Since the 1980s this in turn became an independent parish based group, open to the women of the parish, and although it is still known as ‘the Mothers,’ the group welcomes all women, regardless of marital status. The Mothers group organises parish fundraising events, social outings, catering and continues to be relied on to support the parish in a thousand different ways! The Parish Drama Group which is very well supported, offering two productions each year, was in existence for the greater part of the twentieth century. It was re-launched very successfully in 1977 by Keith Harrison, at that time caretaker of the school, and already a well known actor in the local area. Freda Mortimer was co opted onto the committee to get things off the ground.
In September 1983 the Golden Jubilee of the present church was celebrated with due pomp, and the occasion was marked by the presentation of the Bene Merenti medal to four worthy recipients: Dr Murphy, Mrs Maureen Bland, Miss Violet Lay and Mrs Mortimer. The Bene Merenti Medal is an honour awarded by the Pope to members of the laity for service to the Catholic Church. Fr Edward Horkin celebrated his Golden Jubilee of ordination in April 1996. He then retired in 1997. He remained living in the Stanningley area, where he died at home on the 23rd December 2010. His funeral, led by Bishop Roche, took place at Leeds Cathedral on the 6th January 2011. The panegyric was preached by Fr Francis McGrath, who had served with with Fr Horkin at St Joseph's Pudsey, during the 1970's.
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In October 1964 he resided at the Holy Name presbytery, Leeds, whilst gaining his teaching qualification. He then, in 1965, joined the staff at St Thomas Aquinas Grammar School, teaching Mathematics. In 1972 he left teaching on medical advice. Teachings' loss was to be the dioceses' gain. He joined St William's parish (Bradford), as a curate and in 1973 he was appointed Assistant Administrator of the Diocesan Rescue Society. In 1979 he became a Parish Priest for the first time at St Brendan's (Bradford). Moving to Our Lady of Victories, Keighley, 1984 and then to Our Lady of Good Counsel (Leeds), 1987.
In 1997 he was appointed Parish Priest at St Joseph's Pudsey. He formed the Parish Council and made much emphasis on lay involvement. The re–formation of the SVP in 1998 being one of his first achievements. Followed by the establishment of a Toddler group & the 1st Youth SVP of the diocese. To mark the start of the new millennium the new porch was built, the outside bell and bell tower were refurbished. The porch acts as a children’s room during Mass, and is also home to various parish displays and meetings. During Fr O’Reilly’s time the daily exposition of the Blessed Sacrament was begun, and various embellishments were made to the Sanctuary. A new school hall was built in 1997 and the church car park was also enlarged.
Fr Michael celebrated his Ruby Jubilee in June 2004. The Jubilee was an occasion for much thanksgiving. In 2008 the parish celebrated the 75th anniversary of the church, and the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Parish. Fr Michael retired from active ministry in 2009, shortly before his 75th Birthday and went to live at Mount St Joseph's, Headingley. His later years were marked by ill-health and infirmity but this did little to diminish his gentle manner and good humour. He died peacefully at home the day before his 82nd birthday, 12th October 2016.
His funeral, led by Bishop Marcus Stock, took place at Leeds Cathedral on the 19th October 2016. The homily was preached by Fr Gerald Creasey, who paid affectionate tribute to Fr Michael, highlighting how the early years of his priesthood were a challenging period in the Church, in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. But as Fr Creasey pointed out, here was a man well able to adapt to changing times because of his innate calmness, his deep faith and his cultivation of an inner spiritual life. It was these qualities in Fr Michael that made him a much-loved and admired teacher, pastor and servant of the Diocese of Leeds.
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In 2009 he was sent by the Mission to England, he was asked by Bishop Arthur Roche to go to St Joseph's, Pudsey and hold the fort till the new parish Priest was assigned. He superbly served the parish for ten months, till the new parish Priest arrived, Easter April 2010. St Joseph's, being Fr Solomons' first home in England, will always retain a special place in his heart, as he does in ours.
Rev Fr Mark H de L Knowles (1935 - 2013)
Father Mark was a retired diocesan priest who lived at St Joseph's presbytery from 2010 until his sudden death in 2013. He was a popular member of the parish, a wise counsellor and a man of many talents. He had a great knowledge of antiques and art.This is the eulogy given at the Requiem Mass of Fr Mark Knowles, 2nd October 2013, St Joseph's, Pudsey: There is so much one could say about Mark and I am sure many of you will have your own special stories and memorable perceptions of him. The one persistent theme that people keep saying to me, now that he has died, is what a truly gentle man he was and what a privilege it was to have to known him. Mark was born on the 18th January 1935 in an army camp near Aldershot in the Ash Vale of Surrey, the second son of Cyril and Pamela Knowles. His mother apparently had 3 miscarriages after the birth of Andrew, his elder brother, before Mark was born. Mark used to often comment that his whole life was a miracle of survival and and mused on writing an autobiography called 'The Great Escape' : Chapter 1 being 'Escape from the Womb after 3 miscarriages'. He was born blind and this became apparent after he started crawling and crashing into things. In 1937, Sir Tudor Thomas operated on a child and managed to salvage some sight out of one eye. He was pleased later in life when a young eye consultant said to him 'you must have a very clever brain'. Enquiring why, the consultant replied, 'your bad eye reacts bad to the tests, and does see something, but it is so bad your brain has learnt to exclude the message it receives'. Mark's father was a Brigadier General in World War II and Mark often looked back with pride on his dad's achievements. Mark's family sent him off aged 7 in 1942 in Gilling Castle, the preparatory school for Ampleforth. At that time his family were living in the Welsh valleys. Mark used to say he left for school speaking with a strong Welsh accent and returned at Christmas saying 'Hello, Mummy' in his decadent Radio 3 voice as he used to call it. There are too many stories to tell of his exploits in Gilling and Ampleforth. Suffice it to say that aged 10 he was studying books on Antique Furniture and he pre-dated Harry Potter with his 2 pet owls, Aristotle and Plato. Another great pattern in Mark's life was getting out of things he didn't like doing. He used his eyes to best advantage in school and later life. One of his recollections was that he often said he had bad headaches to avoid certain classes, but some teachers were rumbling him and started to make noises about referring him to doctors. Fortunately his parents took him to Lourdes and he was able to tell his teachers on his return that the headaches had gone and it was a miracle. Mark was intelligent and intuitive but he was not an academic person. He never obtained an academic certificate beyond GCE 'O' levels at school. This sadly blighted his perception of himself as an adult, never fully believing people when they praised him for his intelligence and insight. It was a great joy to him later in life to be able to prove he could study and express himself intellectually, albeit for pleasure, and to obtain a BA, plus a Diploma in French, from the Open University in 2005. Mark always wanted to be a priest from an early age. His uncle Gervase, a monk in the abbey, persuaded him to enter the monastery taking the religious name of Ignatius. He was later ordained priest on the 28th July 1965. Mark often reflected, with no blame on the monastery, that this decision to become a monk was a mistake. He later managed to undo the mistake by being incardinated as a secular priest in the Leeds Diocese, and he felt he had come home to his real vocation to be a priest. Mark acknowledged that his time as a monk had shaped him in many positive ways, and also brought him many blessings in life, especially from friendships made. He did teach in the Abbey School, directed plays and dramas, acted as a scout master and even founded and ran a very successful 'Junior Society' for the boys to relax and socialise. He was a gifted listener and helped many of the young people in the traumas of their growing years. This gift of listening would be appreciated by many to the end of his life. Mark served on several Benedictine parishes before joining the Diocese of Leeds in 1983. He was a curate in St. Mary's, Selby and St. Patrick's, Huddersfield. He then became Parish Priest of St. Thomas More, Dewsbury and finally of St Joseph's, Batley Carr before retiring in 2003. Even in retirement he offered great pastoral support to the parishioners of St. Aidan's, Baildon and latterly, if somewhat restricted due to health, St Joseph's in Pudsey. Mark had too many interests. He would draw you into the joys of reading, collecting memorabilia, music, art, and his garden, just to mention a few. He had a great love of plants and animals, and had an innate ability to communicate with them. I remember one summer a bird accidentally flew into the house and froze with his big German Shepherd dog ready to real with this unwanted intruder. Mark gently moved onto the floor, held our a finger for the bird to climb on and released it out of the window. Mark had an affinity with all living things. In later life he became interested in Buddhist teachings and particularly found a new prayer life in the art of meditation. He reflects in his diary, shortly before his death, how this brought him great consolation. Also in retirement he could pursue in more depth his constant quest for knowledge or wisdom. He was a great one for jotting down extracts from great writers that he thought captured the essence of life and existence, and he would burn with excitement to share these finds with you. His thirst and quest is summed up in a simple jotting from the Book of Ecclesiastes that he recently recorded: 'No man can say his eyes have had enough of seeing, his ears enough of hearing'. Requiescat In Pace
He was ordained a priest in July 1990 and his first appointment was at the parish of the Holy Name of Jesus in Cookridge, Leeds. In 1995, Bishop Konstant sent him to St Paul's University in Ottawa, Canada, for two years to study Canon Law (JCL), and he returned to the diocese to become the Parish Priest of St Anthony's parish in Clayton, Bradford and shortly afterwards the Judicial Vicar of the Diocesan Tribunal. In 2004 he was appointed Parish Priest of Our Lady of Lourdes & The Assumption of Our Lady parishes in Leeds, and continued in the tribunal work until 2007. In 2008, he was appointed the priest chaplain to the University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University (as it was then), and in 2017 also at Leeds Trinity University.
After 11 years in university ministry, Fr Peter now returns to parish life and was appointed Parish Priest of St Joseph's in Pudsey in September 2019.