The Whitnash Mission
Archbishop Grimshaw made the mission at Whitnash a separate parish from St Peter's, Leamington Spa in 1963.
It is hoped that this small history of St Joseph's Parish will bring many memories to those who took part in its early birth and growth.
The Embryo Parish
The story of St Joseph’s, Whitnash, started when the then parish priest of St Peter’s, Leamington Spa, Fr Gerard Flint purchased a site and acquired a hut for use as a Chapel of ease in 1957.
Over the next few years Whitnash saw a great housing development and with this a growth in the Catholic population. So in 1963 Archbishop Grimshaw decided to separate St Joseph’s from the mother church of St Peter’s and appointed its first parish priest Fr Joseph McKenna.
This is how Fr Joseph McKenna described his appointment; “It was the 5th of August 1963, when I received a letter from Archbishop Grimshaw, appointing me Parish Priest of the new district of Whitnash in Leamington Spa. I was to make arrangements for accommodation with Fr Wilfrid Davenport at St. Peter’s Presbytery and take up duty on Sunday 8th September.”
Building a Parish
Boundaries of a parish can easily be defined but the unity of the faithful within that area is all important. “How those Christians love one another” was a saying about the early Church and Fr McKenna set about uniting the people of St Joseph’s. Everyone soon started coming for their Sunday Mass and other devotions and also helped by tidying the outside and inside the Hut-Church.
A Church, School and Presbytery all needed to be built. This required funds. All the usual fund-rising events took place in the hut allowing the Altar and Sanctuary to be partitioned off.