On 5th November 1978 - 40 years ago! - Bishop Foley came to bless the Foundation Stone of the new St Clare's church.
Construction was already underway, with the church's frame already assembled, but the Bishop's visit marked the first dedication of this site as a house of God. 40 years on, to the day, we will bless the new statue of St Clare, which will stand by the Foundation Stone to remind us of our patroness and welcome parishioners and visitors to the church.
Many parishioners gathered for the event, no doubt with a great sense of excitement. For several years the parish had been celebrating Mass in a hut bought from the army camp at Weeton, but it was too small and had only ever been intended as a temporary structure.
Among the clergy was Fr Odran Callan, the first Parish Priest of St Clare's, seen here third from the left. Second from the left is Fr Francis Worden, Parish Priest at Our Lady and St Edward's (our mother parish), who chose St Clare as patroness of the new parish. The priest on the far right of the picture is Fr (now Canon) Dunstan Cooper, at the time Bishop Foley's secretary, and currently Vicar General in addition to his duties as Parish Priest of Morecambe.
On the building site there was a time of prayer, during which the Bishop blessed the Foundation Stone, which was put in place. At some point in its history it was moved to a new location, and is now visible inside the new narthex. It's had a bit of a chequered history - for many years it was covered by a notice board and forgotten, but when the old porch was demolished in 2017 it was rediscovered. At this stage it was framed and the letters were gilded, making it a significant feature in the church entrance.
One other interesting historical note: on the very same day, Pope St John Paul II, who had only been elected to the See of Peter a couple of weeks earlier, made his first visit to Assisi as pope. A plaque in Assisi recalls this visit. Click on the gallery below to see more images of the Foundation Stone blessing: