On the fourth Sunday of Advent the Society of St Pius X, who have celebrated the traditional Mass on a Sunday in the Station Hotel in Newcastle for the last 34 years (with a short inter-regnum when they had an independent, ex-SSPX priest, Fr Glover), moved into their new home the former Anglican church of Christ Church in Bensham, in Gateshead. I include a picture here of this fine church and a link to more. I went to this church in 2005 for a Christian Unity service for Gateshead led by the bishop of Durham, Tom Wright who spoke a lot of sense about ecumenism on that occasion. I was invited back for a sneak preview of the church a couple of weeks ago. The Society had originally planned to take over another ex-Anglican church in the Bensham area of Gateshead, the lovely church of St Cuthbert on Bensham Bank, but found the costs prohibitive. That church has now been acquired by an Orthodox group so Bensham will be able to provide quite a wide variety of liturgical experience!
The new SSPX church has had it`s name changed to the church of the Holy Name. When I was parish priest of St Wilfrid`s and St Joseph`s in Gateshead ( with a weekly Sunday indult Mass) I heard that the SSPX were planning to move into the town. They often complain that bishops set up officially sanctioned celebrations of the Tridentine Mass only where their own churches exist. Having a Tridentine Mass with an attendance of 80 or so I felt that they were setting up near to me. However there is no sign of the SSPX opening up in Forest Hall as yet! Meanwhile the Sunday 12 noon EF Mass continues at the nearby St Joseph`s, Gateshead.
There is talk of the excommunications of the SSPX bishops being lifted soon. If this happens then we will have another church on Tyneside where Catholics may freely worship according to the EF. A field trip to St Cuthbert`s to study the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom should also be a possibility it seems!
I should also mention that Bensham is the home to a large Orthodox Jewish community with one of the most important yeshivas (Talmudic school) in Europe and that the SSPX is right in the centre of it.