SYRO MALABAR CATHOLIC EPARCHY OF GREAT BRITAIN
Chaplain: Rev Fr Terin Mullakara
St. Benedict Mission is a part of Syro Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Great Britain. Out of 35 eparchies, Great Britain eparchy is the 3rd outside India. The main motto of the eparchy is to facilitate the growth of the communities to achieve even greater heights. St. Benedict Mission has started her service on 2nd of September, 2018, in Our Lady of the Rosary & St. Terese of Lisieux Roman Catholic Church, Parkfield Road, Saltley, Birmingham, United Kingdom and officially declared by Major Arch Bishop Mar George Alencherry on 30th November, 2018. Out of 181 mass centres in UK, this beautiful church is also the Gift of God, especially for the liaty of Stechford, Northfield and Walmley area.
As per the words of St Benedict, “Idleness is the enemy of the soul; and therefore the brethren ought to be employed in manual labor at certain times, at others, in devout reading.” The Priest Administrator, Rev Fr Terin Mullakkara, reflects on the mission continually developing and vitally important work with people. Through prayer and worship the people seek to listen to the word of God and to open their heart to his endless love.
The church, of 1932, designed by George Drysdale, is a mixture of Early-Christian and Romanesque styles. Internal marble for the church, including the columns to the baldacchino, pulpit and altar rails, was brought from Italy. There are fabulous 23 church bells, carillon, weighing around 12 tons, with piano like hard key pedals, situated in the square tower and there is a staircase to the north east corner of the bell tower is mesmerizing. There are 4 other places only in United Kingdom using 23 set carillon bells. 'Adoro te devote, latens deitas' is the Latin Text can be seen in the arch, in the front top of the altar, which means, 'I devoutly adore you, O hidden Deity'. The stained glass windows, iron gates, round arched recesses, hand carved oak frames with terracotta plaques of the Stations of the Cross, iron grilled protected stone from Nazareth situated near the wall of Lady Chapel, oak benches and six alters are some of the attractions in the church. Please come and join us!
In 1914 Belgian refugees arrived in Birmingham from their own country. As there was not Catholic Church in Saltley to which they could go, a Belgian Priest called Fr Durieun, said Mass for them in a room above the Barclays Bank which was at the corner of Washwood Heath Road and Alum Rock Road. In later years, Mass was said in a local school.
The number of catholics were growing by the Mass by Rev Fr Gateley, the First Rector. On the arrival of Rev Fr Power in Birmingham for Saltley, started to build a Church, Presbytery and School. The name of the Fr Power has inscribed on the front window of the Presbytery and the Church. Slowly, Our Lady of the Rosary & St Therese of Lisieux came to be the church it is today.
The Presbytery was opened in January 1932 and the foundation stone from Nazareth, was laid on 4th April 1932, on the day of the feast of the Annunciation by the Archbishop of Birmingham.
A relic of the True Cross and a lock of St Therese's hair was placed in a ball and is beneath the cross on the tower of the church.
The High Altar is supported by four pillars of green marble and the tabernacle altar which is beautifully sculptured in white marble shows the Lamb resting on the Book sealed with seven seals. There are over a one and a quarter million pieces of Italian mosaic used in the completion of this beautiful piece of work. High up on the walls at the side of the altar in blue is a frieze containing the last words of St Therese - 'I will spend my heaven doing good on earth and I will let fall a shower of roses.' On the mosaic behind Our Lady and the baby Jesus, it shows the Rosary around the world, with the Cross lying over England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The right arm resting on Knock, Ireland; the left on Carfin, Scotland; and the foot in Walsingham. All these are shrines.
Our Lady's Altar was consecrated on June 8th 1934. Fragment of rock cut from the Grotto at Lourdes can be seen in front of the statue.
Sacred Heart Altar was consecrated a finger bone of Oliver Plunkett, ( an Irish Saint who was born during the 1600's, became Archbishop of Armagh) was taken fro his body in Downside Abbey, Ireland and placed in the altar.
St Therese Altar - St Therese is known as the Little Flower and her statue was given by Mother Agnes of Jesus (Pauline). Fr Power had a great love of St Therese.
Altar of St Anne - St Anne was the grandmother of Jesus, she was the mother of Our Lady and the statue shows her teaching Our Lady when she was a little girl.The mosaic background shows Palestine where Our Lady grew up and the Altar Cross is made from olive wood from the Gethsemane Garden.
Altar of St Joseph also know as 'Pieta' altar because it is a copied design by Michaelangelo in Rome. Also called 'Dead' altar, as everyone light candles for their kith and kin who have died.
The small marble dove, also symbolises the Holy Spirit, is situated on the pillar, right side of the altar. In 1933 in the middle of the mass, a dove flew through the middle doors and rested on the pillar, nearby Our Lady's side of the altar. Attempts were made by several people to catch the bird and remove it, but the Dove settled on its perch and stayed in the church all night and till the blessing of the mass in the morning and flew out of the church. This is the reason for the presence of the model dove on the pillar, by the idea of Rev Fr Power.
The plaques on the front loft, nearby high organ, shows 1932 & 1934, were the congress held in Dublin, Ireland and in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Archbishop of Los Angeles gave the organ to the church in 1934. During war time, it was damaged and replaced in 1947.
There is a window for each mystery of the Rosary, five sorrowful, five joyful and five glorious. There are also two other windows, one of St Agnes who was martyred in Rome and the second of a Franciscan Priest called St John who was martyred in Worcester, near Birmingham.The Power Family (Mother, Father, and four brothers) are shown praying the Rosary at the bottom of the window.
The procelain rose, set in the wall, is in memory of John Bowker, a child, killed in a motor accident in 1950.
The Carillon Bells
There are fabulous 23 church bells, each bell was baptised and inscribed with a name, carillon, weighing around 12 tons, with piano like hard key pedals, situated in the square tower and there is a staircase to the north east corner of the bell tower is mesmerizing. There are 4 other places only in United Kingdom using 23 set carillon bells. The nearest one in Bournville, Birmingham. The keyboard looks like a piano with pedals. The person who plays a carillon is called the ‘Carilloneur’. Since the bombs had fallen on the church in December 1940, the carillon had been taken into safe storage.The bells were heard again almost four years later, on the anniversary of the death of St Therese.
Second World War
Second World War broke out in 1039 and the Church was consecrated and placed under the protection of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When 65 firebombs were dropped around the building in 1940 and later that the School and Presbytery were also hit. In December, a 1000 lb bomb destroyed the side of the Church and two 500 lb bombs hit the front. Also a landmine ruined the north side and with it the Sacred Heart window. On the 30th May 1943, the first Mass in the newly built Church was said.
Our patron saint, also the patron saint of Europe, born in Norica, Italy. He studied in Rome, and then turned his back on the world and lived in solitude at Subiaco. Disciples came to him and he went to Monte Cassino, where he founded a monastery. He wrote his Rule, which established the spirituality and way of life of monastic communities ever since. This saint died of a fever at Monte Cassino not long after his sister, Saint Scholastica, and was buried in the same place as his sister, on 547.
Our Lady of the Rosary
St. Terese of Lisieux