About Us

A brief history of the Church of St Teresa of Lisieux

On a warm September morning in 1971, in front of a delighted congregation, the beautiful new church of St Teresa of Lisieux was formally opened by Bishop Patrick Casey. It was the culmination of a project that had, in fact, begun over forty years before.

Prior to the purchase of the Clairmont Road site, in 1933, Lexden had been merely a part of the parish of St James the Less, in Priory Street. The metal building in Straight Road, still extant, had been used for Mass since 1933.

Completed in January 1937, the first Clairmont Road site was purchased by Canon Clarke with an inaugural Mass by Bishop Arthur Doubleday. This is now the church hall.

As the parish grew and the congregation expanded, it became apparent that a priest in charge was required.

St Teresa of Lisieux Roman Catholic Church

The formidable Fr Feargus Saurin arrived in 1954 and was to preside over the expansion of the parish for the next seventeen years. Two Masses swiftly expanded to three every Sunday. Attendances were around 120, but this soon increased.

Although Lexden was not a formal parish, Bishop Wall made the first visitation in 1956, when an amazing 132 people were confirmed! As the popularity of the church grew, attendances soared; at Christmas in 1958, 429 persons attended with 467 at Easter!

Bishop Wall made another visitation in March 1960, confirming a further 93 people. He also formally ‘erected’ the parish, properly defined the boundaries, and confirmed Father Saurin as the first parish priest. The growth of the parish was noted in 1967, when the Bishop made a further visitation. Looking around at the packed church, he told Father Saurin, “You need a bigger church!”

It was one thing to say that a bigger church was needed but quite another to get it built. The decision was taken to build a completely new church to the west of the presbytery and parishioner J H Dabrowski, an architect, offered to draw up the plans. These were duly approved by Bishop Wall and the building contract was awarded to Pudney’s of Colne Engaine.

Begun on 3rd September 1970, the new church took only a year to build, and was formally opened by Bishop Casey on 16 September 1971. Father Saurin retired from the parish after seventeen years as parish priest to be replaced by Father Patrick Taylor. He set to work building up the new church, setting up the parish liturgical committee to examine the changes fast emerging in the era following the Second Vatican Council (Vatican Two).

In 1976, Father Patrick was replaced by Father Michael Stokes. The new church of St Teresa’s was well established, although lacking many of the refinements which grace it today. The original wooden altar from the old church was still in use, there was no organ, only a keyboard, and there was plain glass in the main windows.

St Teresa’s owes much to Father Michael’s mother, who was adept at finding religious artefacts! She acquired the stone altar, originally in a Jesuit chapel, as well as the choir stalls. These were being thrown out by Shrewsbury Cathedral when they were spotted by Mrs Stokes! The stone Priest’s chair, font and ambo were acquired later, the latter a donation in memory of the late Bob Yates.

The magnificent stained-glass windows at the back of the church were designed by the renowned Brother Gilbert of the famous Prinknash Abbey and finally installed in the mid-1980s. The tabernacle in the side chapel was originally from the church of St Peter and St Paul’s and had been acquired by Father Saurin.

Parish Priests of Saint Teresa of Lisieux

Rev Feargus Saurin 1954-1971
Rev Patrick Taylor 1971-1976
Rev Michael Stokes 1976-1986
Rev Joseph Farrell 1986-1994
Rev John Lane 1994-2000
Rev Arthur Barrow 2000-2010
Rev Tom Lavin 2010-2020
Rev Andrew Forys 2020-2021
Rev Adrian Gabb-Jones 2021-2021 (Temporary Priest in Charge)
Rev Riq Fernandez 2021-

 

For more information on any of our Church services please contact us here

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Working with our community for our community

Social Groups

Within our community and Parish we have a number of clubs and groups running to help parishioners connect and engage with other members. These initiatives cater to a wide spectrum of interests.

 

Within our Parish

We are committed to providing support and growth for parish and community members through collaborative efforts with both local and national organisations. 

 

Outside Agencies

Through social action initiatives, churches have the potential to make a significant impact on some of the most pressing issues facing our society today. Poverty, homelessness, hunger, and discrimination are complex issues that require collaborative efforts and long-term solutions.

 

Schools

With a strong commitment to Catholic values and teachings, parish schools offer a safe and nurturing environment where students can develop a strong sense of faith, morality, and character. Our local Primary school is St Teresa's and our local college is St Benedict's.

 

holding hands

Bereavement Support

Bereavement support is an important aspects of the role that churches play in supporting individuals and families during times of loss. When someone experiences the death of a loved one, they may feel overwhelmed, confused, and isolated. Bereavement support services offered by churches can provide a safe and compassionate space for individuals to process their grief, share their experiences, and receive support.

Find out more about our Bereavement Support services here

holding hands

Bereavement Support

Bereavement support is an important aspects of the role that churches play in supporting individuals and families during times of loss. When someone experiences the death of a loved one, they may feel overwhelmed, confused, and isolated. Bereavement support services offered by churches can provide a safe and compassionate space for individuals to process their grief, share their experiences, and receive support.

Find out more about our and Bereavement Support services here

" Use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you."

St Teresa of Lisieux

Organisations & Committees

Long standing groups who welcome new members into their traditions and community, providing opportunities for lifelong faith formation and personal growth.

Compassionate Service Initiatives

Here you will find a number of useful links to support the wellbeing and improve the lives of parish and community members through social engagement initiatives.

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Ministries

At St Tersea's we have a number of volunteer positions that help with the day to day running of the church including The Repository, alter services, welcomers and readers.

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Parish Councils and Committees

The Church is supported by several representatives, who provide guidance, advice and assistance to the parish priest to ensure the overall smooth running of the parish.

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News

Catch up on all the latest news from the Parishes of St Teresa and St John

" Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love."

St Teresa of Lisieux

St Teresa

" Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love."

St Teresa of Lisieux

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