We thank Aiden Kelleher for sending us this photograph of St Gerard's C.O.M taken in July 1936 the photograph features Aiden's uncle Father Thomas Kelleher (Front row 2nd from left). Father Thomas Kelleher was born in 1907 in Annaghmore, Mohill, Co Leitrim, Ireland in 1907, was ordained by Bishop Wall in Maynooth in 1933 for the Diocese of Ardagh & Clonmacnois. He went on temporary mission to the Liverpool Diocese in October 1933 and returned to the Diocese of Ardagh & Clonmacnois in January 1937.If you recognise yourself or anybody else in this photograph we would be pleased to hear from you.
Two more photographs from Mary Wrigley picturing the St Gerard's Women's Confraternity (above). Mary's Grandmother Annie Murphy was President for many years. Annie is pictured on the top photo on the front row far right hand side.
Annie is also pictured on the photo above holding the baby on the back row. Next to her (in the cap) is her eldest son, John.
Our thanks go to Mary Wrigley for sending this webpage 2 wonderful photographs which picture events in the St Gerard’s Parish. Mary tells us that her mother, Frances Murphy, is pictured on the 1929 (May Queen Procession – photo above) at the end – far right. We wonder if readers can recognise other family faces?
We have no information from Mary about the 1938 photo (above) and welcome hearing from readers who may have some details and or other such photos for inclusion on this webpage.
Shortly after being appointed as Parish Priest of St Gerard Majella's Church in 1946, the Rev Dennis Kelly decided to try to get together reliable information about the early days of the parish. This was deemed an important task as all the historical records kept in the presbytery were destroyed at the time of the May Blitz, 1941. Father Kelly approached a Mr Hubert Beasley, the Liverpool staff reporter of the Catholic Times for help and this resulted in a book being written by Hubert Beasley entitled 'The 40th Jewel'. The book was published in 1949 and records the history of the parish from 1915 to 1949.
St Gerard's was the 40th new mission to be established in the city of Liverpool since 1707, the year when the oldest Catholic mission in Liverpool, St Mary's in Highfield Street was founded. St Gerard's was the 40th Jewel to be added to the illustrious Catholic Crown of Liverpool.
The foundation stone of what is the only church in the Liverpool Archdiocese dedicated to St Gerard Majella the Wonder Worker was laid on the 4th of April 1915. The formal opening of the church, by Archbishop Whiteside, took place on Sunday 9th of January 1916. Announcing the opening of the church, the Catholic Times reported that though the church was a brick building designed in a somewhat Romanesque style, with a plain interior, and accommodating 600 "it is yet not without a certain beauty".
The parish school was formally opened on the 31st of May 1914 and was meant to be of temporary nature - to last 10 years. - but as it happened it was in full operation for 25 years - up to the fateful month of September 1939, when the outbreak of the second World War necessitated the evacuation of the school from the "front line" in Liverpool to a safe spot "behind the lines" at Wem, Shropshire. The school was destroyed in the blitz on Merseyside in December 1940.
St Gerard's church had a narrow escape from destruction when, during a heavy raid on Liverpool on the night of Saturday, 3rd May 1941, the Protestant Church of St James The Less - locally known as "Little Jimmies" - was struck by incendiaries and set on fire. St James' was soon a raging furnace, and as the two churches were contiguous, St Gerard's was in great danger. Every effort was made by the fire fighters' and people of the two parishes to subdue the flames, but the water supply failed, and St James' was gutted. The fire, however, was prevented from spreading to St Gerard's, though later that night the presbytery was burnt out.
The church was undoubtedly saved from incendiary bomb destruction later in the same month by the swift and courageous actions of two parishioners one of who, Edward Lundon, scaled a ladder to the roof of the church, and by using sand and water and a stirrup pump was able to extinguish the flames. First aid repairs to St Gerard's church following war damage were effected in 1942, but because of rigid Government control on building expenditure, only a very limited amount of work could be carried out, with the result that, by 1945, dry rot had seriously affected the roof timbers of the sacristies and part of the main roof of the church. It was not until 1948 that negotiations were completed with the War Damage Commission and a licence obtained from the Ministry of Works for the necessary restoration. This work was to see the widows of the church fully reglazed, with a new design of leaded lights incorporating tinted glass with a central motif of crosses from different shapes from the simple Roman Cross to the Cross of the Miraculous Medal.
Although scaffolding was still preventing the use of the High Altar a Benediction was celebrated at the church on Sunday 30th October 1949 following a procession through the parish. This procession saw The Blessed Sacrament carried through the streets for the first time since the founding of the mission in 1915. Nearly 1,000 people took part. The procession and Benediction was in thanksgiving to Christ the King for the many favours bestowed on the parish, especially the preservation of the church during the blitz. The route of the procession from the church was, down Cranmer Street, along Latimer Street to Athol Street, and back by the same route.
The people of St Gerard's, one of the poorest parishes in Liverpool, had been looking forward to that great day, and they spared no effort to transform the streets with every sort of decoration.
All the parishioners were eagerly looking forward to the completion of the restoration and the redecoration of the church. This was to be achieved in 1950 and the Archbishop had indicated that he would be present at a Mass of Thanksgiving on January 22nd 1950.
CHILDREN OF MARY
This sodality was not established in the parish until about 1920. Up to that time most of the girls in the parish had already attached themselves to the same sodality in the surrounding parishes to which they formerly belonged. Once established, however, the St Gerard's Children of Mary Sodality soon gathered strength and continued to flourish under successive worthy presidents and spiritual directors.
On November 30th, 1947, the Guild of St Philomena was inaugurated in the parish for all girls from 11 to 15 years of age.
LEGION OF MARY
The first meeting of the Legion of Mary in this parish took place on the 18th October, 1947.
Our thanks go to Danny Molyneux who provided the Scottie Press Archive with this wedding photo for which he would like identification of the church. The photograph was taken around 1959 - 1960. The Groom's surname was Harrison who's Mother was a Kitty Harrison (nee Molyneux). Kitty had a General Shop in Louis Street (Off Scotland Road). We think the church may have been St Gerard's in Boundary Street. If you can confirm this or if you know the true identification of the church please email firstname.lastname@example.org
This webpage is currently under construction and we are seeking information about the building and opening of St Gerard's Church, Boundary Street/Cranmer Street, Liverpool 5. We also hope that the photographs featured on this webpage will encourage former parishioners of St Gerard's to share their memories.