SEVENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION


Saint Peter's celebrated the seventy-fifth anniversary of its opening with two Masses and social events.



The first-ever Mass in Saint Peter's was on Sunday 2 October 1938 at midday. On the anniversary, Wednesday 2 October 2013, priests, parishioners and friends again gathered at noon to celebrate Mass. Parish priest, Canon Matt McManus concelebrated with former parishioners Father Gerry Magee and Father Stephen McGrattan. Canon Matt offered the Mass for our parishioners and the 6410 children were baptised in the Church, the 1143 couples who were married there and the 1574 people whose funerals were held in Saint Peter's.

Gerry Swan was the altar server. Julia Paterson, our oldest parishioner, did the readings. Katie Cassidy read the bidding prayers. The offerings were presented by Tommy McCann, the second child to be baptised in the Church and Betty Craig. The Eucharistic Ministers were Alfie Agostini, Aiden McGrath and George Poole. Guitarists Michael McCulloch and George McGrattan led the singing of the final hymn, Faith of our Fathers.

After Mass, most of the congregation gathered in the Parish Centre and signed a commemorative booklet. Margaret Swiercz served light refreshments and was helped by Pamela McGlynn and Mamie Stewart.



On Saturday 5 October 2013, the 5.30 pm Vigil Mass was celebrated by Canon Matt and dedicated to the priests and people of Saint Peter’s parish, living and dead.



Canon Matt opened the service with these words.
Saint Peter in Chains was opened when Mass was celebrated here at 12 noon on 2 October 1938. It was pouring that day. From the photographs we have and contemporary accounts, we know that Archbishop Donald Mackintosh performed the opening ceremony. Father Archibald McSparran said the first Mass in the new church and he was assisted by Father James McCarroll and Father Robert McCliment. All three were natives of Ardrossan. Father Fredrick Pirrie of Paisley was the preacher at Mass.
We know that Frank Coulter was a server at the Mass and Frank is assisting us this evening. Apart from a few, we have no idea who else was there and there are not too many around to tell us. So that we can help those who will be here when we are a hundred years old, it would be useful if you put your name in the record we hope to have of today's Mass. The book will be in the Parish Centre, where there is a light supper and a chance to chat after Mass. Everyone is welcome. The opening Mass appears to have been a splendid affair. There were many people to thank. It is a splendid building and it cost £10000 to build and furnish. Michael Reilly and Harry Kemp were instrumental in buying the land and assisting financially and some of their descendants are here this evening. Most people thought the purchase was for a Cinema - more welcome than a chapel in the Ardrossan of those days. Volunteers stayed overnight to save the building from being vandalised. Saint Peter's was built through the generosity of its people. A few gave big donations - most gave what they could. Our benefactors did what they did so that there would be a suitable place where God could be honoured by the Sacrifice of Jesus which we call Mass so that there would be a place of peace for the grieving and of making farewell of the dead, a place of rejoicing for those beginning new lives in marriage or in baptism, a place where individuals could become a community and a place to pray.Our purpose has not changed in seventy-five years. This House of God is the centre of our parish community. Today's Mass is not a song and dance affair. I simply ask you to pray by letting your mind stray to all the people who have used this Church over the years. Some of you will remember them. They are your parents. Some of you were baptised here - 6410 children were. Some of you were married here - 1133 couples were. Some of you said goodbye to very precious people here - we have buried 1547 of our parishioners over the years. Many of us, including me, are incomers but we are not strangers. By faith, we belong and by our support of this Church we have earned the right to claim it as our own. When the Church was opened, there would be people here mourning for husbands and fathers killed in the Great War, families still grieving over those who died of the flu epidemic that followed the war and killed even more than died in the war, mothers worrying about how to feed their children, parents anxious about how their children would get jobs and find the right person to marry in a fairly anti-Catholic society. As the years have gone on times have changed. We have new worries though the old ones remain. Another war came in 1939 just after the Church was opened. One of the priests slept in the Church in case of bomb damage. A new generation of worried people gathered here and prayed for the safety of their husbands, sons and brothers. After a time of rationing and real hardship, a new world emerged. We have a lot less time to think of God, so self-important have we become and we don't yet have an app that communicates directly with God. We have taken education seriously and have moved up the social ladder. Jobs are still scarce but we are better off. Parents still worry about the future, about drugs and alcohol and such things. But we are the same people as those who gathered here seventy-five years ago. As you think of them, pray for them and pray for one another. There are lonely people here, people who are anxious, people who are grieving, people who wonder about the future and since we know much more about our world than the people of 1938, spare a moment to ask forgiveness of God that we have not yet created the world we could have if we really tried. So, as we celebrate Mass together, take time to pray.

The altar servers, shown above from left to right, were George Poole, Peter John Walsh great-grandson of Michael Reilly, Callum Coldwell, Frank Coulter who, as Canon Matt said served at the opening Mass, and Aiden McGrath. The readings and bidding prayers were read by Katrina Pollock. Jim Donnelly sang the Psalm. Bill and Celia Andrew presented the offerings. The Eucharistic Ministers were Moira Bingham, Aiden McGrath, Anne McGrattan, Gerry Swan and John Walsh. The choir members were Evelyne Agostini, Jim Donnelly, Michael McCulloch, Celia Morman, Margaret Swiercz and Monica Taylor. The organist was Martin McLaughlin.

Brian Kemp, grandson and Susan MacKay, granddaughter of Harry Kemp who donated the High Altar and allowed Mass to be said in his Assembly Hall in Bute Place, Ardrossan before the Church opened were among the congregation. Peter Reilly, son of Michael Reilly, who was instrumental in purchasing the land on which the Church is built was also present.

After Mass, most of the congregation gathered in the Parish Centre and signed the commemorative booklet. Andrea Dougan and Margaret Swiercz served a buffet and were helped by Frances Gemmell, Pamela McGlynn, Michelle Morton and Mamie Stewart.

George McGrattan gave a multimedia presentation on the origins of the Church.

There are more pictures of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary on the Pictures page.