Christ the King Church - History
1. Parish Priests' Pen Portraits
(NB only dearly departed priests' pen portraits are featured)
1929-1933 Fr William Meagher
William Meagher was born 15 April 1886, he was ordained 21 June 1914 and served a long curacy at St Mary, Failsworth 1914-1929.
In 1929 he was sent to Burnley to take charge of the fledgling mission of Christ the King, four years later he moved to St Mary, Haslingden where he remained until ill health forced his retirement in 1951, he died the following year 9 October 1952.
1933-1935 Fr William Watts
William Watts was born 13 May 1876 in Bolton, he was educated at the Salford Catholic Grammar School, then after the merger at St Bede's College, then finally at Valladolid where he was ordained 24 August 1902.
Fr Watts served curacies at St Joseph, Halliwell (1902-04), St Mary, Islington (1904-09), St Mary, Eccles (1909-16), then as chaplain to the Salford Union Workhouse. In 1918 he was sent to the fledgling mission of St Robert, Longsight where he acquired the plot of land in Hamilton Road, and laid plans for the new church and school, but ill health forced his resignation in 1927, 18 months before the plans were completed. From 1927 to 1933 Fr Watts served as chaplain to Buckley Hall, Rochdale before returning to the active mission as Parish Priest at Christ the King, Burnley. In 1935 with his health still poor he moved to there rural parish of St Wilfrid, Longridge where he remained for more than 20 years until his death 13 September 1956.
1935-1940 Fr Herbert Bolger
Herbert Bolger was born in Oldham 17 March 1893, he was trained at St Bede's College, and at Ushaw, being ordained 13 June 1918. Fr Bolger served as curate at Eccles 1918-24, Chorlton cum Hardy 1924-29, and St Peter, Greengate 1929-35.
In 1935 he was sent to Burnley tasked with establishing the new parish of Christ the King, and he built the present church.
In 1940 he moved to St Aloysius, Ardwick, then in 1944 to St Mary's, Bolton before retiring in 1951 to the Rescue Home at Didsbury where he died 21 September 1955.
This photo of him was taken at the opening of Christ the King Church on 29th Nov 1936</span
1940-1943 Fr Maurice Porter
Maurice Porter was born 1 May 1896 in Cornbrook, Old Trafford, he was baptised at St Wilfrid's, Hulme, but at the age of three the family moved to Urmston where they settled at Westbourne Park and were founding members of the new mission of the English Martyrs, Urmston. Maurice trained at S Bede's College, at at Ushaw , at Leeds Seminary and at Fribourg. On 21 March 1920 he returned and was ordained at his home church at Urmston.
Fr Porter served as curate at Greenacres 1920 to 1921 and at St Alban, Blackburn 1921 to 1922, it was then that his health broke down for the first time and he took six years of sick leave, he returned in 1928 as curate at All Saints, Barton, then from 1928 at Ss Peter & Paul, Bolton, then in 1931 his health collapsed for a second time and he spent six years as chaplain to Notre Dame, Blackburn.
In 1937 Fr Porter returned to parochial ministry as Parish Priest at St George's, Nelson, he moved in 1940 to Christ the King, Burnley, then in 1943 to St Joseph's, Stacksteads, however in 1949 his health broke down for a third time and he went to convalesce in St Ives, Cornwall where he died 1 January 1955 at the age of 58.
1943-1946 Fr Joseph Gannon
Joseph Gannon was born in 1898 in Clough, Co Armagh, he trained at Waterford and was ordained at Waterford Cathedral. Fr Gannon served a long list of curacies - Mount Carmel, Ordsall 1922-24, St Joseph, Bury 1924-25, St Mary, Burnley 1925-36, St Mary, Bacup 1936, St Brigid, Bradford cum Beswick 1936-38 and St Mary, Bolton 1938-40.
In 1940 Fr Gannon was appointed Parish Priest at St George, Nelson, moving after three years to Christ the King, Burnley, then after another three years to St Joseph, Reddish where he would then serve for 24 years, he retired to Ireland in 1970 and died there 18 December 1982 at the age of 84.
1946-1950 Fr Thomas O’Neill Elliott
Thomas O'Neill Elliott was born at the dawn of the 20th century in Central Oldham 20 August 1900, his father worked for the Gas Board building gas meters. He was ordained 19 July 1925 at Salford Cathedral and began his ministry as curate at St Augustine's Church, York Street, Manchester, leaving there in 1936 for Horwich. In 1939 Fr Elliott volunteered for military service and saw extensive action in WW2 until ill health forced his resignation, he was demobbed in 1942, going then for a short period of recuperation as curate at Longridge. In 1943 Bishop Marshall asked Fr Elliott to go to St Edward's, Lees as parochial administrator, the German born PP Fr Hohn was in 'temporary exile' in Ireland, where he had fled to escape internment.
In 1946 Fr Elliott moved as PP to Christ the King, Burnley, then finally in 1950 to St Mary's, Denton where he would minister for 23 years, he rebuilt the church. He retired in 1973, living in a house in Haughton Green, he died 9 October 1981.
1950-1960 Fr John Hartley
John Hartley was born 4 May 1903 in Manchester, a native of Mount Carmel parish, Blackley, he was educated at St Bede's College and at Ushaw being ordained at St Patrick's, Oldham 22 July 1928.
Fr Hartley was appointed curate at St Brigid, Bradford cum Beswick, in 1936 he moved to the Guardian Angels, Elton, then in 1942 was appointed Chaplain at Crumpsall Hospital.
In 1950 Fr Hartley was sent to the church of Christ the King, Burnley as Parish Priest serving there for ten years, moving in 1960 to Our Lady & St Patrick, Walton le Dale where he died 28 June 1965 at the age of 62.
1960-1984 Fr Denis Bannon
Denis P. Bannon was born in Oldham in 1909 to Irish parents, he was ordained 25 July 1937 and began his ministry on loan to the Shrewsbury Diocese at Birkenhead, in 1939 he returned and served as curate at St Alphonsus, Brooks Bar, moving in 1941 to St Mary, Blackburn and in 1952 to Walton le Dale.
In 1960 Fr Bannon was appointed Parish Priest at Christ the King, Burnley where he would serve for the next 24 years. he retired in 1984 to McAuley Mount where he died 11 June 1987.
1984-2002 Fr Joshua Sheeky
Joshua Joseph Sheeky was born 18 September 1926 in Burnley (St Mary's parish), he initially qualified as a teacher before deciding to pursue a vocation with the priesthood in 1958, he then trained at St Sulpice and was ordained 29 June 1963 by Bishop Beck at his home parish of St Mary's, Burnley.
Fr Sheeky served as curate at St Patrick, Livesey Street 1963-69, Sacred Heart, Derker 1969-70, and St John the Baptist, Rochdale 1970-74, he then served on the staff at St Bede's College 1974-77, before returning to parochial ministry at Sacred Heart, Accrington 1977-80.
In 1980 Fr Sheeky was appointed to the charge of the newly opened church of St Teresa of the Child Jesus, Barracks Road, Burnley where he served for four years, in 1984 he moved to the neighbouring parish of Christ the King, during which he was also the school chaplain to St Hilda‘s Girls RC High School. He remained at Christ the King until retirement in 2002, moving then to McAuley Mount where he died 17 November 2004.
2002-2017 Fr Brian Kealey
2017-2018 Fr Blaise Armadi
For current clergy see Parish Clergy Team
(with thanks to archivist Lawrence Gregory for supplying the information & photos used in the pop-ups)
2. The Church Building:
The building is a plain interwar church, intended as the church hall for a projected church (unexecuted). It was built in the garden behind Spring Hill, a Georgian mill owner’s villa which temporarily served as the chapel and then as presbytery, until its sale by the diocese.
In 1895, a chapel of ease was established in St Thomas’s School (built in 1876-7). In 1929, Monsignor Tynan bought Spring Hill, a large mill-owner’s villa in Manchester Road, as a site for a new church and school. A mission was established and services were held in a small chapel in the house. In 1932, the parish was established. In 1936, a new church was built adjacent to the house for about £3,000. The architect was Richard Byrom of Bury, and the contractors were Messrs Mullen & Durkin of Burnley. The church was opened by Bishop Henshaw on 29 November 1936.
Spring Hill was then used as the presbytery until its sale [ keys handed to mcontracors 5th February 1990 ], when a new presbytery was built. [ Fr Sheekey moved into the new presbytery on 26th January 1990 ]. The church is built of Accrington brick laid in stretcher bond, with tile details. The pitched roof is of slate. The plan is rectangular, with a sacristy and a boiler house at the east. The main entrance is at the northwest. The south elevation has six metal-framed windows between brick wall strips. The west and east elevations have slightly projecting centre bays. There is a Venetian window to the west. Inside, the church consists of a single unaisled space. The roof is timber-panelled. The Gothic carved timber altar and reredos are original. As part of the post-Vatican reordering, the altar was moved forward and the reredos placed on a sympathetically-designed new support. Above the sanctuary hangs a modern Christ the King crucifix. Near the southwest corner is a large statue of Christ the King, given in memory of Albert Whittaker (died 1942), placed in front of timber Gothic panelling. At the southeast corner are an octagonal timber font and a statue of Our Lady (in memory of Christopher Flaherty, who died in India in 1942).