So many have given service to the Parish over the years and so many give service now, in ways both small and large, making it a living, growing parish. For the Living, it would be neither proper nor possible to name them, nor would they want it. But let us remember some of those who have died after having given notable service to our Parish. Clearly, they represent many others.
Sidney’s early efforts to secure a church in Abington was followed by dedicated service to the Parish, supporting its activities, and particularly the SVP, with enthusiasm, and becoming the respected “Elder Statesman” of St. Gregory’s.
Bernard was a “founder member” of the Parish and an active parishioner. He is specially remembered for his outstanding work on behalf of the Socety of St Vincent de Paul (SVP). Not only was he prominent in establishing the SVP in the Parish, but was President for the Diocese, and active nationally. He forged a twinning link between Northampton SVP and Grenada, visiting the island, forming new SVP conferences there and promoting aid to the island poor.
Hilda, as she was known by all, was housekeeper to Canon Phillips from 1947 until her death. She was held in affection and respect, not only in the Parish where she fully helped in its activities, but by a large number of clergy throughout the Diocese. She ruled the Presbytery with firmness but with welcoming hospitality. Canon Phillips, who deeply appreciated her service over the years—she was awarded the Bene Merenti Medal in 1971 – was in Lourdes when she died. Her Requiem Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Grant, Canon Diamond, Canon Phillips and twenty priests of the Diocese.
Tony was Organist and Choirmaster, from 1947 until his death. As a young man, he had tried his vocation to be a priest. A fine musician, he initiated the music tradition of the Parish , supporting Canon Phillips in the liturgies he loved, first on a harmonium in the old church and then on the organ in the present church. He trained the choir to perform to a high standard. He was awarded the Bene Merenti Medal in 1972.
Leo was one of the three stalwarts (with Tony and Hilda above) who supported Canon Phillips from the beginning of the Parish in 1947. He was Master of Ceremonies on the altar for over 30 years. Canon Phillips had recruited him from the Cathedral, where he had been already an altar server for 27 years, as the man to implement the performance of the liturgies to the exacting standard that he required. Leo certainly did that to perfection and guided generations of altar servers in how to fulfil their duties. He was awarded the Bene Merenti Medal in 1970.
Bill Currie was a Chartered Accountant who gave freely of his professional expertise to any Parish organisation which sought it. He was Chairman of the Planned Giving Committee and Treasurer to the Parish. He was a genial Scot and a family man. He is shown here with his wife, Frances (now in a Nursing Home) and son William. Frances too was a tireless worker for the Parish. The Currie household was a welcoming one for the clergy who would drop in from the nearby Presbytery to relax, although Bill was always ready to debate aspects of the Faith that he loved — and there was always a reconciling tot of whisky!.
Doreen was a longstanding member of the Parish and a great worker for it. She was a very active member of the Union of Catholic Mothers from its earliest days in the Diocese and she was local President. The separate branch at St. Gregory’s was established in 1964 and she did much to sustain it. Doreen was an enthusiast in all that she did, For many years she was Parish reporter for the Diocesan Magazine ensuring that St. Gregory’s got good coverage!
Roy was a valuable worker for the parish, readily putting his time and skills to its service. It has been noted earlier that he constructed the housing of the Christmas crib which is used each year. He worked hard behind the scenes for the annual Christmas Bazaars, which for many years were a feature of parish life, building, erecting and dismantling the stalls—all to a deadline. His day-job was with Alfred Davies, the organ buider, and had worked on the organ at St Gregory’s. Roy was tragically killed in a road accident on the way to work.
Kathleen gave long service to Catholic education in Northampton, working in both St. Mary’s Junior Girls’ School and St Mary’s Junior Boys’ School before becoming Deputy Head at St. Gregory’s Primary (and then Lower) School. She was an accomplished musician. In 1975 she founded the PTA choir. For many years she played the organ at the 8 am Sunday Mass, the hymns carefully chosen to balance the knowledge and abilities of the congregation with the message of the readings. It was her way of supporting the life and work of the Parish. Widowed early she was devoted to her three children and to the love and care of her eldest, Adrian, who was born with Down’s Syndrome. The late Adrian is seen with her above.
Bridie was a founding member of the Parish, and worked all her life in furthering the development of it and supporting its activities. If something needed doing, she was prepared to do it. Early on she helped clean the church and for many years she washed the altar linens. For twenty-five years she took on the task of obtaining the flowers for the church, and for their arrangement. Her artistry in doing this was literally there for all to see, and not only enhanced the appearance of the church but provided a fitting background to the services.
Hilda was a parishioner of St Gregory’s from the beginning and was the first Sacristan, both in the temporary church and the present church, with a daily task of replenishing the sanctuary lamps with oil. . She was a teacher by profession. She was a founder member of the choir and a dedicated worker for the parish. Her mother was a trained needlewoman, who made vestments and altar cloths for St Gregory’s, but Hilda too produced fine needlework for the annual bazaars. Hilda had a deep spirituality. She belonged to the Third Order of Carmelites, and read the Office each day. She was a regular pilgrim to Lourdes and other shrines. .
Tim was a Dentist by profession, although coming from an engineering background. Perhaps it was these two factors which gave him the practical skills that he generously employed in the service of the Parish. Much of his work was done in the 1980s and 1990s when he embellished the earlier pulpit, carved a notice board for outside the church (153 hours work!), carved the David’s Harp Music Stand and a new Hymn board. He also worked in metal, repairing candlesticks, making a brass snuffer and erecting a brass tabernacle. He did much else too, both in the church and presbytery. His carving of the crucifix above the choir loft was noted earlier. Tim was a quiet man but his work still speaks for him.
Tom and his wife Kathleen were both dedicated workers for our Parish. Tom was the Parish Accountant for more than ten years and his meticulous and consciencious work ensured the Parish finances were always in good order. He did the very important task too of organising the Planned Giving. Tom was a convert to the Catholic Faith, being received into the Church in the 1980s. Apart from his accountancy work he helped with Church cleaning.
Kathleen was a life-long Catholic and a long-serving member of St Gregory’s Parish. Amongst the tasks she undertook for the Parish was the washing of Altar linens.
They retired to live near their family in Scotland, and it was there that they both died.
Tom came to Northampton in 1962in and was, until his retirement, a highly respected History teacher at Northampton Grammar School. For 43 years he was a stalwart of our Parish, serving it with dedication. His greatest contribution was with the SVP. He was already a member when he came to the Parish and he immediately joined the St Gregory’s Conference and remained very active in it until he and his wife Mary moved away in 2005 to be nearer family. He served both as its President and Treasurer but his major contribution was his tireless work helping those in need, the sick and the elderly and those who, in trouble, sought a sympathetic ear. He organised Christmas parcels for the needy and the lonely, helped with Masses for the Sick, and undertook home visiting. Tom was unassuming in manner, always ready to help, but preferring to get things done quietly and effectively. He made a difference to the lives of many.