History 2

Silver Jubilee Celebration

Mass of Thanksgiving Tuesday November 5th 1974
Celebrated by His Grace Archbishop Thomas Winning
Extract from Sermon by Very Rev. Denis Canon Meechan, D.D.

The parish of Our Lady and St. George was founded  in 1949.
From the beginning there was quite a large number of Catholics, so that by 1954 there were about 3,000 parishioners.
The big majority had come from St. Anthony’s, Govan and Our Lady and St. Margaret’s, Kinning Park.

Canon George Galbraith found by 1949 that his fine parish of Our Lady of Lourdes was becoming so big as to be unwieldy, and he proposed to Archbishop Campbell that a new parish should be set up for Penilee and nearby developments of the city like Cairnhill Circus, which was regarded as Crookston, and part of Hillington.
The Archbishop gave permission and Canon Galbraith, with his usual great energy, obtained ground and a very special permission ( because building was much restricted at the time) to build a Church/Hall.

The following text is from the recollections of Fr. ( Alfie ) McKenzie
who was at Our Lady and St. George’s for quite a number of years along with Fr. Bradley.

The original parish boundary was Hillington Road, and the first presbytery was on the “wrong” side of Hillington Rd, i.e. outside the parish!  I think the house number was 112.
When I was there it was occupied by a man called Jimmy Docherty who was for many years President of the parish SSVP (and his wife’s brother was Fr John J McGinlay). 
I don’t imagine it could have been used for very long – it might not even have been bought, but loaned or rented while they tried to buy a house (eventually 30 Sandwood Rd where Joan & Hugh McGuiness lived).

I don’t think Canon George wanted to “give away” any of Hillington, though at the time there were only about 30 Catholic families between Hillington Rd and Tweedsmuir Rd

I believe the parish boundary was only extended into Hillington once they failed to acquire the site they wanted in the middle of Penilee which is believed to be where Penilee Secondary School is now located.

Father Patrick Casey was appointed Parish priest and although he had never been very robust, he very quickly had a finely organised parish, with parishioners who formed a really fine group of helpers – ‘The Hall Committee.”
The cheerful generous self-sacrifice of the members was magnificent.

Very soon Father Casey was given the support of two other priests to aid him in setting up the parish and it throbbed with life.
The Church/Hall was crowded for Masses on Sundays, but it was far from comfortable. The seats and kneelers were a sore trial and entailed an immense amount of setting and removing because the Hall was in very frequent use as a hall, providing entertainment and raising funds for development.
For seven years or so a considerable group of young men and youths did great work at least two or three nights a week at the heavy task of shifting and replacing the seats.
As the Church/Hall became too small for the numbers attending and as the seating became rather outworn, priests and people sighed for a real church.

The parishioners were generous in contributing to the various collections and turned out in good numbers to garden fetes, sales of work and other money raising activities.
The financial side of the development of the parish was so good that by December 1958 this lovely church was formally opened by Archbishop Campbell. Of course the new presbytery and new roads of entry were ready at the same time. The grounds gradually, and indeed fairly quickly, were put in good order.
The resultant debt on the parish was very heavy, but the steady generosity of the people enabled it to be paid off in less than ten years.

The percentage of people who attended Mass and who made their Easter duties was remarkably high, even for the West of Scotland.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society was numerous, strong and devoted. The Women’s Guild, although almost informal, was powerful and the central to much of the parish activity.

The Legion of Mary had a very large and devoted number of men, women, boys and girls; amongst their good works the Legionaries gathered and said the Rosary in the homes of the departed. The church choir was excellent.
In short the spiritual life of the parish was of a really high standard.

Our Parish
Anecdotes from 1974 Silver Jubilee.

“Just over 25 years ago, the letters D.I.Y. had not been used; certainly not in the way they are today. Do it yourself shops were unknown then.
Post war shortages prevailed to an extent almost unimagineable today. So when the good people of Penilee, after much pressurising in many different departments, finally managed to get permission to build a slightly glorified ‘ Nissen Hut’ to serve as a church, they felt a real sense of achievement. This can only be understood by people who depended on a very indifferent tram service to get them along to Our Lady of Lourdes every Sunday.”

The late, beloved Father Casey, our first Parish Priest, whose house was at 30 Sandwood Road, was appointed to say 10 o’clock Mass in the Cardonald parish.

Very often he was still waiting for a tramcar at Sandwood Road and Paisley Road West at 10.20, and most of the Penilee people were in the queue with him – and on some very cold mornings.
However, the great day dawned, the ‘Nissen Hut’ was erected and duly blessed by Father George Galbraith, who I’m sure parted reluctantly with the generous people of Penilee.

The conversion of that bare structure into a church, when furnishings were practically impossible to buy – even if we had been a rich parish – would have daunted many braver people than us, but the Do-It-Yourself men buckled down. Ordinary tradesmen became craftsmen; many of the furnishings made for the hut are still serving the present church very creditably.
The people gave sideboards, tables, linen, vases, and their unlimited time gladly and willingly. Our altar rail was two lengths of rone pipe threaded through long pieces of home-laundered linen, in front of which our dear children made their First Communions, our babies were baptised, many of our present parishioners were married and, sadly, we attended Requiems of many other dedicated workers. ( May they rest in peace ).

“But that ‘Nissen Hut’ served us well. During its lifetime as a church it doubled as a social centre.
Many dances, whist drives, concerts, reunions, sales of work presentations etc, were held, and it was then immediately converted back to a church again, within an hour, by all our willing workers.
The close friendship between our beloved priests and our people was no doubt due to the church hall.
After all, when you went into the kitchen for Confession, or to the sacristy at the other side of the hall with the very minimum of partition, it was like talking to a dear member of the family.”

The building survived as a hall and was still used as a temporary church on occasion.
One example of this was during Mgr ( Father ) Paul Conroy’s tenure when the main church was closed because the parquet flooring was being replaced by tiles to accommodate the new underfloor heating system.
Due to the continued deterioration of the fabric of the hall, it was finally demolished in October 2011 to make way for a new hall to benefit not only our parishioners but the wider community.
The money to build the new hall was raised after many years of hard work by our parishioners who organised numerous fundraising initiatives.
These included ‘ Buy a Brick’, Parish Bond Scheme, Raffles and Social events.
Money was also raised from various ‘Grant’ sources and an interest free bank loan organised by the Archdiocese.
The new hall has proved to be a great asset to the community and after further years of fundraising, was finally paid off with a cheque for £30,000 presented by Mary Mackintosh to Fr. Joe Boyle on 8th September 2017.

You can follow the hall construction in the slide show below.

Some further recollections from Fr. McKenzie about the Church grounds and sale of some land to the Knights of St. Columba.

You may remember that in the early ‘80s we discovered the whole current site was only leased from the Council – it was only when the Knights of St. Columba wanted to buy part of it that we discovered it was not ours to sell!
I was there on my own one July when the housekeeper (Marie O’Neill I think) told me there were 7 men in suits wandering about the “back garden”.
They told me the diocese had given them a list of possible sites for a new KSC HQ which they could buy (they were being evicted from Berkeley St at the end of a 99-year lease), and they fancied this one.  We had to own it as they did not ever want evicted again!
I told them we paid rent to the council for “at least part of the grounds but wasn’t sure which part”.
The parish had been paying an annual rental of £100 to the council but it was thought to be for just a small part of the grounds!  The archdiocese then had to buy the site for £10,000 and sell the KSC ground for £4,000.  Doubts were raised by some people about the possibility of a club being built later and to prevent it got a clause added into the deed of sale (from the Council to the Archdiocese) banning the sale of alcohol.
Legally, this applied to the whole site, so included the hall, so there had to be something added about “excepting existing usage” to allow the hall bar to run.

The main church building has always suffered to some extent from a ‘Greenhouse Effect’ on warm sunny days and a much cooler effect during the cold winter days due to the poor sealing qualities of the windows and doors
It was decided to fundraise – AGAIN – in order to replace all the windows and doors.
It was also hoped to reduce the magnifying heat effect of the south facing windows.

The new windows and doors were completed in 2018 and you can follow the construction in the slide show below.

From the ‘Silver Jubilee’ booklet.
God has blessed Our Lady and St.George’s abundantly; we owe him a deep debt of gratitude; in our rejoicing today, let us not forget the thanksgiving. Let us implore him to continue his protection of his people, for without his mercy and kindness we can achieve nothing lasting.

“We are proud of Our Lady and St. George’s Church, but we ‘older members’ of the parish value the friendships we made as new parishioners together, and treasure many happy memories of our early days and the part we played in helping to build a great parish.”