Over three hundred Parishioners of St Michael's Catholic Church in Ashford welcomed the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor on Sunday (19th November) on his visit to Ashford. This year St Michael's celebrates one hundred years as a Parish in the Diocese of Westminster. Throughout the year new building works at the church, including the redesign of the Sanctuary and a new Altar, were completed. This was just in time for the Cardinal to dedicate the Church and consecrate the new Altar.
In his homily, the Cardinal said 'I am so pleased to be able to visit you here in Ashford and to celebrate with you. Your beautiful Parish Church stands as a witness to the faith and dedication of so many people over the last hundred years. These are good times to be a Christian and a Catholic and I pay tribute to you and to the priests and people who have kept the faith alive here in Ashford over the past century'.
Although the present church dates back to 1928 the extension to the church was delayed during the war and it was not completed until 1960. Following the Second Vatican Council the traditional High Altar was no longer used, instead a temporary wooden Altar nearer and facing the people was used.
The gift of a generous benefactor has enabled the redesign of the sanctuary in line with current liturgy including a new fixed stone altar and ambo or lectern. The Church, originally designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, Architect, also has a new porch, facilities for the less able and has been redecorated and lighted to a high standard. George Mathers, the Architect who advised on the current changes said 'What we have been able to do is to include a more contemporary feel to a much older church'.
Parish Priest Monsignor James Overton said: 'At last we have come to the end of the reordering of our church. It has also been a magnificent team effort in every way. So let us now enjoy the beautiful results of all the hard work that went into it and give heartfelt thanks to God'.
Following the Dedication Mass, the Cardinal joined former Parish priests and people in a reception at the Parish Hall.