The Rededication of the Lady Chapel in St. Mary's Church Derby.

 The Liturgical Celebration for the rededication of the Lady Chapel was an uplifting, joy filled occasion for the Clergy, Parishioners and all who were involved in the Restoration of The Lady Chapel. Those entering, the beautiful, Pugin designed Church, consecrated in 1839, probably found once again an echo in their hearts of the awe, expressed by Mr Langtry Langton the architect involved in the refurbishment of the Lady Chapel, at “the sheer, stunning beauty of the Nave and Sanctuary”

When the architect, was asked to study the Lady Chapel, which had been added to the Church in 1853 he found much to delight him. He felt “The proportions of the Chapel are as near to perfection as one could get; the Sanctuary a masterpiece, worthy on its own, of a Parish Church and the Southern internal aspect (where the Chapel has been dovetailed into the original building) so well-handled that it actually appears wholly original.”

There was much more to delight an expert on the work of Pugin, and his sons but his task was to high-light, aspect of the Chapel which needed attention. He identified seven areas: “small matters, but together, I thought that they resulted in a fundamentally beautiful space, not looking anywhere near its potential best.”

It is these small, but pricy matters, which comprised the restoration work of the last ten months or so and all involved are delighted with the results. This was expressed in the joy filled, exuberant Liturgical Celebration for the rededication of the Lady Chapel held in St. Mary’s on Thursday 13th October.

The Service began with a Mass of Thanksgiving. The main Celebrant was Bishop Patrick McKinney of the Nottingham Diocese, assisted by Canon Timothy O’ Sullivan, and Fr. Neil Peoples (our parish clergy) and Fr. Peter Inman a former priest of the parish who is currently on sick leave but returned for the celebration. Many priests from the diocese of Nottingham were part of the entrance procession and took their places on the Sanctuary.

In his welcoming address, Father Tim spoke of the celebration “as a great occasion for all of us in our parishes. It marks the completion of a work that started two and half years ago, when it was decided that the Lady Chapel needed a face lift. The project was complex and involved a great amount of patience and hard work from many people: the enthusiasm and skills of the architect, the advice of the Diocesan Historic Churches Committee, the painstaking commitment of the crafts people and the main contractors & his team who supervised and coordinated the work. A t the outset we hoped this restoration work would become a focal point for all who belong to the family of St Mary's and Holy Family Parishes and enable us to be an ever closer and more vibrant community. This has happened in a way far beyond our expectations and we are very pleased.
In conclusion, our special thanks go to all those parishioners who have made very generous donations to the appeal and to the groups who organised and ran the popular social and fundraising events from beetle drives and quizzes to the charity auction. We also thank the businesses who have contributed to our appeal and those who have publicised the restoration in the wider community.”

After this welcome and introduction, The Mass, the heart of our celebration, began. As the Congregation sang enthusiastically the 21st Century, English Hymns and Mass Settings; it felt good to sense in the mind’s imaginative eye, Augustine Pugin and the Earl of Shrewsbury, old friends, standing together, smiling down approvingly on the scene, from their vantage point in Heaven, old differences, about appropriate music long forgotten.

After the Gospel was proclaimed Bishop Patrick gave a short, profound and moving homily on the place of Mary in our individual lives, in the Church, and in our world. Then the Mass continued. The Church was full, but the whole Ceremony move forward smoothly and with dignity as everyone cooperated fully with the ushers. There were two processions involving the whole Congregation. The first was the Communion procession when all approached the Altar to receive Holy Communion or a Blessing. The second was the move from the main Church into the Lady Chapel for the rededication service.


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Hint to move forward at your own pace press pause button and the the forward arrow

We had wondered how all would fit into the Chapel, but quietly, directed by the ushers, it was managed; we stood in rows with our backs to both side walls of the nave leaving an adequate space in the middle for the clergy to move up to the Sanctuary. As we processed a soloist sang the verses of a modern version on Mary’s ‘Magnificat’ while the Congregation sang the chorus.

When all were in place, Bishop Patrick wearing a Pugin designed Cope, borrowed for the occasion from the Pugin Museum in Ascot College, Birmingham, prayed with hands outstretched, the prayer of Blessing:

Lord God, We acknowledge your infinite glory and the abundance of your gifts. Before the foundation of the world, you appointed Christ the beginning and end of all things. You chose the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Mother and companion of your Son, the image and model of your Church, the Mother and advocate of us all. She is the new Eve, through whom you restored what the first Eve had lost. She is the daughter of Zion, who echoed in her heart the longings of the Patriarchs and the hopes of Israel.

In her flesh she was his Mother, in her person, his disciple, in her love his servant. Father, may your children who have provided this Chapel dedicated to Mary, know her protection and trace in their hearts the pattern of her holiness. Bless them with faith and hope, love and humility; bless them with strength in hardship and self-respect in poverty; bless them with patience in adversity and kind-heartedness in times of plenty.

May they, search for peace, strive for justice, and realise your love, as they pursue their journey through life toward your heavenly city, where the Blessed Virgin Mary intercedes as Mother and reigns as Queen. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Bishop Patrick then blessed the Chapel and the Congregation with Hoy Water and incensed the central image of Our Lady. After the blessings the Filipino Choir standing at the back of the Chapel sang a beautiful Motet in their own language. Finally Bishop Patrick led us in a decade of Mary’s prayer ‘The Rosary.’ The ceremony ended with our favourite Latin Motet to Our Lady. “Salve Regina” (‘Hail Holy Queen’)

After the Service, we all moved to the Parish Centre where a team of parishioners had prepared a sumptuous buffet. It was beautifully laid out with plenty of space for those who wished to sit down to eat. Drinks of all varieties were available. There was a great buzz of lively conversation; so much talking, in fact, that perhaps we did not do full justice to the food provided. During the course of the evening there were two presentation s. The first was to Father Peter from the people of the parish as a ‘thank you’ for his time and great contribution to the life of our Parishes. The second was a thank you and official farewell to Rose as she retired from her work as housekeeper in St. Mary’s Presbytery.

This Service of Rededication of our Lady Chapel has brought to a happy conclusion the whole restoration project. I am sure that everyone in anyway involved in this restoration will agree it has been a great privilege to be part of such an, uplifting, satisfying enterprise.