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Parish Profile

Westminster Record April 2011

Bayswater: Formation and Catechesis By Jo Siedlecka St Mary of the Angels in Bayswater is be one of the better recognised London churches, because a special Caribbean Mass celebrated there at the start of the Notting Hill Carnival is often televised.

was made second Archbishop of Westminster, and later Cardinal. However he closely followed the work of the Oblates and often returned there. He said his happiest days were spent at St Mary of the Angels.

It was also the home, from 1978 97, of Fr Michael Hollings, an exceptional priest who wrote many books and ran an ‘open house presbytery’ for the homeless. The Fr Michael Hollings Centre, which offers food and advice to the homeless has now been built there in his memory.

The Church was enlarged and decorated notably by Francis Bentley, later architect of Westminster Cathedral. For over 100 years, the Oblates ministered to the people of Bayswater and Notting Hill - first to the largely Irish population but later to the Caribbean and other ethnic communities that make up the exciting mixture that is this part of London.

Margarita Alvez is the paid worker who runs the Michael Hollings Centre which offers a cooked breakfast and advice to about 60 homeless people each morning. Local people who volunteer to help each week before they go to staff from Michael Boyd & Associates Architects; John Brown publishers and Alvanon fashion mannequin makers. The parish priest, Mgr Keith Barltrop, once the eastern Area Episcopal Vicar and a former Director of the Catholic Agency to Support Evangelisation, arrived on 6 January 2010. St Mary of the Angels was built in 1857 as a centre for a community of Oblates of St Charles priests, under the leadership of Fr Henry Edward Manning. They had been sent there by Cardinal Wiseman. with the task of evangelising the rapidly growing community building the railways. A church was needed for the Irish labourers and in 1857, St Mary of the Angels was opened. In 1865, Fr Manning

In the 1970s, Cardinal Heenan dissolved the Oblates, and the parish passed to the Diocese of Westminster. The large rambling presbytery that was built for the Oblates, is currently used by the Shalom Community from Brazil, and as busy parish offices and repository. The social mix of the parish has become increasingly diverse, as parts of the area now include some of the most expensive property in London. There is also a terrific range of nationalities. Mgr Keith said: “We have a large number of people from Africa, China, Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. The Notting Hill Carnival Mass is always tremendously popular with a steel band and a street party. The Mayor always attends. There is also a large Portuguese contingent. In May and October they have a procession of Our Lady of Fatima.”

The splendid interior of St Mary of the Angels

Mgr Keith has recently introduced the Divine Mercy devotion to the parish. He is now organising a national Divine Mercy conference which will take place on 22 September 2012 in Westminster Central Hall. Around 2000 people are expected to take part.

Geared for families and children The liturgy is the centre of life at St Mary’s. The 9.30am Mass is specially geared to families and children, with music often provided by the Junior Choir, while the 12 noon Mass is more solemn, with organ, cantor and sometimes a quartet. An adult choir is currently being re-formed.

Fr Keith is very keen on adult formation. He said: “Last year we held a School of Prayer which was attended by more than 50 people over two months.” On 16 March Fr Keith started a new course: ‘Discovering God’s Plan’ – a short course on the essentials of Catholic faith in relation to daily life. There are five sessions held at 7.30 on Wednesdays.

The parish has an outstanding school, also called St Mary of the Angels. There is catechesis for adults who want to have their babies baptised; to those seeking baptism or reception into the Catholic Church for themselves; to young people and adults wanting to be confirmed; and to children making their first Holy Communion.

New parish council

The cleaners: Vera Williams, Maria Bello, Mabel Akabah, Christine Bedminster, and Serina Dow

Fr Keith is planning to recruit and train more catechists. A Legion of Mary group has recently started up, and a new Parish Council has just been started. He would also like to organise more events for young people. He said: “A lot of young adults come to the Sunday evening Mass. I would like to start using films – not necessarily religious ones – as a starting point for reflection and discussion.”

Fr Keith at church doorway

Sunday Mass (Sat 6pm), 9.30 (Family) 11 (Portugese), 12noon (Solemn), 6pm Holy Day Mass 10, 7.30pm Weekday Mass 10 Exposition Mon-Sat 9-9.50 Confession Sat 10.30-11, 5.30pm-6pm and on request

For more information on St Mary of the Angels visit:

Parish Profile - Bayswater  
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