The Very Beginning
Michael Cunningham‘s wrote a booklet called ‘St Josephs Roman Catholic Church Brighouse a parish history 1998‘ (The booklet is still available at the Piety stall) and Fr John Carter wrote the forward as an introduction.
‘The history of a parish is the story of the building of a community of faith. It is a history of personal, family and communal joys and sorrows as well as a history of fidelity and witness to the Catholic faith. Our parish history is intimately bond up with thousands of individuals‘ stories as well as with the story of the Universal Church’
The booklet tells the story of the arrival of Irish immigrants looking for employment in Brighouse between 1861 and 1871. By 1867, Brighouse had a Catholic population of about 400 and they needed an open place of worship.
In 1869, St Joseph‘s became a parish in its own right. The church was opened in 1878 and the school, the Presbytery and the Parish Hall were built by 1889. By the end of the 19 century, St Joseph‘s had become a respected institution both in the Diocese and locally.
At The Heart Of A Community
When war came in August 1914, St Joseph‘s Brighouse was a thriving, if not wealthy parish. Since 1900, it had developed its church buildings, cleared most of its debts and established a strong tradition of religious, educational and social activities. This was continued in the years afterwards. Mass was also celebrated at Wyke where there was a chapel of ease.
1954 was a Marian Year and it was decided to erect a shrine to Our Lady on the church grounds. The statue was made in Wilmslow and the shrine was constructed by the voluntary labour of parishioners. In 1959, there were proposals to build a new sacristy, the sanctuary was redesigned and a new altar installed. By then, there were1790 parishioners.
And Where Are We Now
Over the following years, the parish continued to flourish with the Masses, confessions, confraternities, institutions and clubs. This included St Patrick‘s Day parades, May processions, dances, concerts and diverse parish activities all of which were well received by parishioners and Brighouse itself.
By 1939, we would have recognised the parish as we know it today. The history of S Joseph‘s has been largely a history of the dedication of its priests and parishioners. Throughout all the many changes this has always remained a constant factor.
There is currently a population of 2000 parishioners.