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Church of Saints Peter, Paul and Philomena, New Brighton, Wirral,
Worshipper: Don Bosco.
Church of Saints Peter, Paul and Philomena, New Brighton,
Roman Catholic. In October 2011, administration of the church
was assumed by the Institute
of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a Society
of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right whose mother house
is in Italy.
The building is vast, set high on the top of a hill overlooking
the Wirral. It is topped by a characteristic dome, and was lovingly
termed "the Dome of Home" by sailors out at sea looking for
the coast. The building has a unique monstrance used for adoration
and benediction, which rises from behind the altar in a specially
The building is a shrine church established by the Bishop of
Shrewsbury after the building had been closed for some years.
This shrine is to foster a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
The liturgy is said in Latin, with all sacraments administered
according to the extraordinary form outlined in the 1962 Missal.
The newsletter promotes their choir, catechism talks, and other
spiritual and fundraising activities that take place throughout
Mainly a residential area, there is a mixture of larger Victorian
houses with smaller working-class terraced homes. There are
several attractions, notably the Mini
Railway, the Fort
Perch Rock, and a lighthouse.
The newsletter indicates the Revd Canon Amaury Montjean is the
rector. I presume he was the celebrant. No other names were
provided. An unnamed deacon preached.
The date & time:
Septuagesima Sunday, 16 February 2014, 11.30am.
We have received a comment on this report.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Around 100 people.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
I arrived 45 minutes early, so not a soul was to be seen. Fifteen
minutes before mass, I had a few weak and uncertain smiles from
one or two people as I looked around. I imagine the elderly
congregation didn't know quite how to greet a twenty-something
Was your pew comfortable?
A perfectly adequate wooden pew with comfortable kneelers. Normally
this is no problem, but throughout this mass it certainly was
How would you describe the pre-service
Absolute silence, broken only by a malfunctioning sound system and the musicians practicing in the gallery.
What were the exact opening
words of the service?
"Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo et mundabor"
(You shall sprinkle me with hyssop, O Lord, and I shall be cleansed)
was intoned after the priest reached the altar.
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
I had helped myself to a hymn book (Hymns Old and New).
Knowing this was a mass in the extraordinary form and entirely
in Latin, I had brought my own 1962 Missal. The church provides
slimline editions by the Latin Mass Society, which one is forbidden
under pain of all sorts of dire penalties to remove from the
What musical instruments were played?
An acceptable electric organ (I believe their "real"
organ is in a sorry state, waiting to be restored).
Did anything distract you?
The building was positively Arctic with a capital A! I have
never been so freezing inside a building! It was so cold I really
struggled to pray. In the extraordinary form, one spends a great
deal of time kneeling, so even though I had warmed my little
spot nicely, it soon cooled the moment I knelt down, greeting
me with a cold snap when I returned to a seated position.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
Epitome of Roman Catholicism: very high church, done perfectly
with no fuss! The mass was exclusively in Latin, with only the
homily in English. Everything audible was sung. Candles and
incense were used; bells rang at appropriate times; the celebrant
wore a beautiful violet chasuble with maniple, biretta, and
lace alb. Signs of the cross, bowing, and genuflections abounded.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 The reverend deacon preached well. He read his homily
fluently from a script, and despite a broken sound system I
was able to hear the majority of what he said.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
He spoke on the gospel, which had just been chanted in Latin:
the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16).
The Church is the vineyard and we are all the labourers. We
all receive the gift of eternal life if we are faithful to God
and the teachings of the One True Church. The early Christians
were much like the workers who feel disgruntled at being paid
the same as those workers who did less work than they, in that
they were appalled that new Christians could be baptised without
previously adhering to the law of Moses. God gives us all our
deserving reward in his just mercy and judgement, irregardless
of when we start to follow his teachings fully in this life.
We should lament and pray for those who do not follow him at
Which part of the service was like being in
When visiting churches, my heart is usually pounding when it
comes to receiving communion, as I always receive kneeling and
on the tongue. This usually results in my being stared at. Here,
everyone received communion this way. And there was no communal
sign of peace, which is always a blessing!
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The extraordinary form seems to attract an odd lot. The people
did not sing the parts that pertained to them, and I had a constant
feeling that I was sitting in someone else's spot. I had invaded
an exclusive club, despite knowing the liturgy inside out.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Absolutely nothing. I was thoroughly ignored despite doing my
best to make plain I hadn't a clue what was happening. Nobody
even moved out of my way to let me get through the door once
I gave up. Anonymous Catholicism at its best.
How would you describe the after-service
No idea. I guess there was none. I had traveled two hours to
attend mass and would have deeply appreciated a hello or something
warm after being in such a cold building for so long. The example
of hospitality set by St Francis de Sales, who is very important
to the Institute, must be lost on this congregation.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
3 I have a great affinity for the extraordinary form,
and the liturgy here is beautiful. I can tolerate a cold building
and frosty people, but not at the same time. I am deeply disappointed
and gobsmacked with how unintentionally rude the congregation
and priests were.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Not at all. A great shame, as I had very very high hopes. Maybe
one day I shall give this place another go, but I shan't go
out of my way to do it.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The valiant efforts by the choir, organist, and very loud soprano
to sound tuneful; and the inaudible singing of the celebrant.
And the congregation adopting the same stance as the building:
high up on the hill, looking down on everything below it.
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