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The Holy Souls Mission

A short history of the "Holy Souls" Mission, Crosby, Scunthorpe; with a description of the New Church. 1910 Printed by W. M. Grasar.

 The New Printing Works, Frodingham Road, Scunthorpe. It is an old axiom that the world is wide enough for us all; is wide enough at any rate for all those who are broad minded enough to live and let live. The days of religious intolerance have gone, we hope never to return and the massacres of " Bloody" Queen Mary, or the three, hundred or so of Catholic martyrs under " Good " Queen Bess have become mere matters of history, to be buried in the mists of antiquity and remain there, we venture to think for good and all.

Whatever be our religious " pursuasion," be it something very definite and even dogmatic, or be in a nebulous belief in all things good, few of us can doubt that the presence of an active religious influence in any town makes for due order, mental culture and good citizenship. These things are in the purely natural order to be sure. Still they count for something, and even on this low basis, an organisation that is doing good work may be, and should be encouraged by all of us.

We therefore welcome the new structure, the first instalment of which is now well on its way under the name of "Holy Souls" Church, in Frodingham Road, Crosby. In view of the forthcoming Bazaar which is to take, place on December 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, in aid of the new fabric, it may not be without interest to some of us to heal. of the early growth of the mission in this town, together with its subsequent development.

Some eighteen years have passed since Divine Service was first performed at Scunthorpe according to the Catholic rite. On the 2nd of November, 1892, (All Souls Day) the Very Rev. Dean Kirby well known in the locality as a man of apostolic zeal, and well beloved by his townsfolk came over from Brigg and offered up the Holy Sacrifice in the house of Mr. E. Field, whose family v were then recent converts. The small flock who gathered round the, altar on that occasion would hardly recognise "go ahead" Scunthorpe, were, they here to attend Divine Service in the permanent Gothic structure. Crosby that now is had then yet to be, and the few miles of tenements that now exhibit such signs of progress and industry were then buried in the womb of the future.

Howbeit, the evolution of Scunthorpe was in those days well conjectured even though not actualised in fact. The Catholic mission was accordingly opened and put on a pioneer footing, the volunteer clubroom being offered for this purpose through the generositv of the commanding officer of the North Lincoln Volunteers a kind hearted and liberal minded Protestant. The Drill Hall, a much more commodious and suitable room was afterwards substituted through the courtesy of the same gentleman. Holy Mass was offered tip ill one, or the other of these two buildings until Easter 1898. In the second week of August, 1897, the Right Rev Dr. Bagshawe, Bishop of Nottingham, in whose diocese Scunthorpe is situated appointed A resident priest lit the person of the Rev. Rupert McCauley, to the charge of the mission. Father McCauley was a very zealous young priest w hen he came to the mission, but being of a very ~ delicate constitution the strain of pioneer work was too much for him under such unfavourable conditions, and his health eventually gave way. He continued in charge of the mission until the end of March, 1898, when he resigned after having done good work and placed the mission on a more solid basis. At the time of his leaving it was remarked, more in sorrow than in anger, "that the Catholics of the district, though most willing, were so few in number and with means so limited that they were unable to provide for him so liberally as they would have wished and as his delicate state of health required."

During the next seven months the mission was committed to the care of the Crowle Fathers, the Rev. Father Martens being appointed by his superiors to take charge of it. He worked most zealousIy y during the few months that it remained in his care, and gained the esteem and love of all with whom he came in contact, non Catholics helping. and admiring him equally with his own flock.

The Rev. Father Hooker was next appointed to the charge by the Bishop of Nottingham, on the 12th of October, 1898. He proceeded there on the following day in company with Dealt Kirby, of Brigg, who introduced hint to the flock. For some while lie enjoyed the hospitality of Mr. and. _Mrs. Chamberlain, whose goodness was as indispensable as it was generous, and to the point. 

After a year or so he took a small house as his private residence, holding the Sunday services in the Drill Hall, and saying Mass during week days at home. This little residence took to itself the pretentious name of the " Presbytery," which no doubt satisfied the ideals of the congregation for the nonce. Subsequently (about Easter, 1899,) he took a more ample villa in a better part of the town, and the front room came to be used as the " Chapel of the Holy Souls." Those who frequented the said room are best able to judge of its devotional but very restricted merits.On Sunday, December 18th, 1898, Catholicity in Scunthorpe made quite a "splash" in a small way. Special Services were held in the Assembly Rooms, of Manley Street, and Mgr. Sabela was called clown to give the sermon both morning and evening. He was an able preacher, and his charming eloquence, together with the augmented choir brought over by Mr. Gervase Cary Elwes, of Brigg, made a mild sensation in the town. Even Benediction was given with full panoply of candles and flowers to rejoice the, heart of all who love the romantic, and ascetic ritual of devotion. This was the first time benediction had been offered in Scunthorpe from time immemorial.

Such was the beginning of great things the ideal which have not even yet been amply realised, although they are now on the high road towards fulfilment.
F. Kerin laid the seeds of true sanctity among the flock during his two years of apostolic work, until he was called away by a long and painful malady that proved his heroic character if such a proof were needed. He is even yet spoken of in terms of endearment by, all those who learned to appreciate his self sacrificing work. And 'tis said, the mission has yet to bear the full fruit of the blessing lie brought upon it. To Fr. Leo Mouthuy a man of many and varied attainments the mission owes in actual work done, the present corrugated iron structure, for two years used as a church, although not yet fully paid for. Also the spacious site, than which certainly nothing could be more ample, nor more pleasing and Prominent, and which was procured from the trustees during his charge of the mission. This eligible piece of land has been well fenced in and has put the mission on a fair way towards ultimate prosperity. The pioneer work is ever the more difficult ; it is those who come later who reap the fruit. All honour to those, who have borne the brunt of initiative, the true labours and heat of the day.

The Rev F. Askew came to the mission during Lent of this year. A firm believer in "lay hell)" and organisation, he has succeeded in establishing confraternities for all the Main work of the mission beyond the bare pastoral duties. In this way the flock has had an opportunity to prove their worth, and they have done it in no unmeaning way. During the past six months the little church has been embellished and adorned in a hundred ways. The choir has been re organised. under the care of Mr. Hendrick, and made truly "Harmonic," and the services have become really devotional and taking.

All this augurs well for the future progress of the. work, and we can but add to our little narrative a motto of old, prospers, procede, and requa prosper go forward. and reign.

The actual church when completed will form quite a new feature, to the architecture of the locality. The proportions of tile structure are in accordance with the very best canons of art, and although the edifice will never be called, even by its best admirers, either gorgeous or lavish, it nevertheless contains all that goes to make up a genuinely pretty church.
The prominence of the roof, covered in with carefully selected brindle tiles so as to give a wavy and shingled effect, is after the mind of John Ruskin, who loved the upper part of a building to be of the very best. The well shaded porch is a distinctive feature of the edifice and forms a sheltered resort from the burning sun and biting gales of our very versatile clime) ; in this it is not a little redolent of the gorgeous lanes built by our medevial forefathers.
The nookiness of Our Lady's Chapel will be a great addition to the completed church. It is intended to accomodate some fifty worshippers, and will be divided off from the nave by a pleasing perspective of Gothic arcading. The chancel decoration will at first be but temporary: the altar of wood being transferred from the iron fabric. In the no very distant future a fine sanctuary and apse will be completed with beautifully traceried windows with stain glass.
A sculptured stone altar is also part of the permanent scheme which will add by its pinnacles and golden tabernacle to the general effect.

As to the internal adorment the "Stations of the Cross" are artistically wrought on canvas with ecclesiastical settings, and will play a great part in the Lenten devotions of the new church. The font is a well proportioned piece of work as simple as it is massive. This, according to Catholic custom, is already consecrated, having been used for many baptisms in the past.

The pulpit has an interesting local history, being purchased for the " Holy Souls " Church from the Frodingham Parish Church some years since, and is well outlined, and stands gracefully upon a small base,, corbelled out towards the top. The grotto of stones to be placed in the church around a statue of Our Lord have an interest measured by their antiquity. They were brought here from the ruins of ,a Gilbertine monastery near Louth, and show their medieval character in the excellence and balance and deeply carved moulding.

The seating is modern and good being worked up in American oak after the pattern of those in the Norbertine Church at Crowle. We can hardly close our description without a word of admiration for the architect's choice in setting his structure well back from the road. This will allow of a verdant plantage to set off the red mural tones calling in the aid of generous Nature to assist Art, which we are told, is the highest ideal of the architect's craft.

In a word, the church though small is distinctly good, and an addition to the not very varied loveliness of Scunthorpe town. A good building is an education in itself, and so we must needs congratulate the pioneers of the present edifice. May it see long days and good, and be merely the outward emblem of the Spiritual temple of God, which is after all the great thing that matters. All material fabrics are but a means to an end. Having got the means, we can but hope that the "Holy Souls" flock will attain to the end.