Consecration of our Church 8 May 1962
By Mike Webber. Photographs by J White & Son, Littlehampton.
Our church was Consecrated by Cyril Cowderoy, Bishop of Southwark Diocese (which included Sussex at that time) on 8 May 1962 - a Tuesday - during the daytime.
In 1962, pre-Vatican II, churches were only Consecrated (that is, dedicated solely for religious purposes) once the building was substantially debt-free. The last improvements to the building had been the addition of stained glass windows shortly after World War Two.
The ceremony included the blessing of the external and internal walls of the church. 12 metal crosses (each with a bracket underneath, holding a candle) were affixed to the walls of the nave and sanctuary, and each of these was individually blessed.
Another important rite involved the Bishop tracing with his bishop’s staff first the letters of the Greek alphabet (representing the Jews, the Chosen People) and then, crossing that, the letters of the Latin alphabet (representing the Gentiles - the non-Jews). The ceremony ended with a Low Mass.
From the photos below you may notice: the old pulpit, from which the present ambo raised platform was fashioned; and the old altar rails, used in 1980 for the new altar.
Pre-Vatican II, members of the congregation knelt at the altar rails to receive Holy Communion, and all women covered their heads when in church.
The sanctuary in 1962
Tracing the Alphabets
Blessing the Consecration Crosses
The Bishop enthroned