Sunday, February 11, 2007
SS Peter and Paul`s Longbenton
When I was moved from St Wilfrid`s, Gateshead in 2005, as well as St Mary`s in Forest Hall I was also asked to look after the parish of SS Peter and Paul, Longbenton. This is in an area of Newcastle that has had its fair share of social problems but which has been the recipient of much regeneration planning recently. The parish probably saw its heyday in the 1970`s and 1980`s when it was a centre for charismatic renewal. In recent years there has been quite a rapid turn over of parish priests and the parish has gone into something of a decline. At present there is one Sunday Mass at 9.15 attended by about 80 people, most of whom are elderly. At least SS Peter and Paul`s looks more like a church than the other two venues in which I say Mass at the weekend although the large black marble altar is rather daunting. As I only say Mass there on a Friday night apart from the Sunday I haven`t applied myself much to thinking what could be done with the sanctuary. I hope to have some tabernacle veils made soon. The altar might benefit from a frontal and some different candlesticks. What I like about the parish is that it reminds me in many ways of St Wilfrid`s in Gateshead where I had ten relatively happy years in that the congregation and area is quite similar, although they do not have the traditional devotions ( such as the Forty Hours and May Processions) that were a normal part of life at St Wilfrid`s and which are so hard to re-introduce once it has been decided to scrap them. I have introduced weekly exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour before the Friday evening Mass. The presbytery is the home of the remarkable Fr David Milburn, author of the History of Ushaw College and president of the North East Catholic history society, who provides valuable help in both parishes. Here are some pictures of the sanctuary. The figure above the altar I find hard to love but haven`t come up with a replacement as yet.