ST JOSEPH'S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, PUDSEY
St Joseph's Catholic Primary School is linked with St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church Pudsey. We are lucky enough to be situated on the same site.
Our parish priest is Fr Peter Kravos
St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church
Here is the history of our Church
With the growth of Pudsey in the mid-nineteenth century, what Catholics there were had to travel to Leeds for Mass, where a church had been established in the town since 1786. However, it was from Bradford rather than Leeds that the establishment of a Catholic Church in Pudsey was to come. The first Catholic Church since the Reformation had been opened in Bradford in 1825. This was St. Mary’s in Stott Hill, on the site of the present St. Mary’s School. Canon John Motler, who was the parish priest at St. Mary’s from 1865 to l88l, had taken an interest in the plight of the Catholics of Pudsey who were still having to travel to Leeds or Bradford to attend Mass, and had laid plans in the late 1870s to provide a chapel for the town. However, in l88l, Canon Motler left St. Mary’s to take charge of the new parish of St. Joseph’s in Bradford. He was succeeded at St. Mary’s by his senior curate, Fr. Thomas Simpson, who now put into effect the plan to build a Catholic Church in Pudsey.
Fr. Simpson, later to become a Canon of the Diocese, was ordained a priest in 1867 and was appointed almost immediately to St. Mary’s, where he was to remain until his death in 1913. It was he who, in 1883, obtained a room in Hammerton Field where Mass was said for the first time. Meanwhile, he had obtained land in The Lanes and in that same year work was begun on a school chapel to serve the needs of some three hundred Catholics by now said to be resident in the town. The Foundation Stone was laid by Canon Motler and the following Spring, the work was completed. On 19th April 1884, the new chapel was solemnly opened by Dr. Robert Cornthwaite, the Bishop of Leeds. The Mass on that occasion was celebrated coram episcopo by the founder of the church, Fr. Simpson, assisted by the priests and choir from St. Mary’s. The cost of the first St. Joseph’s was £1,200. When fully opened out, the chapel could hold 4OO but was able to be divided from the Sanctuary by screens and to provide two school rooms, one of which was specially set aside for the use of the infants.
or a number of months, the care of the parish appears to have reverted to St. Mary’s and it was over a year before the Bishop sent a new priest to St. Joseph’s. By a strange coincidence the priest came from Belgium but this time was a priest of the Diocese. Fr. Lawrence Versteylen was born in Turnhout in the archdiocese of Mechlin in l872. After his early education by the Jesuits in his hometown, he had entered the seminary at Mechlin. Wishing to work in an English Diocese, he had come at first to the small diocesan seminary in Nottingham but in 1892 had transferred to St. Joseph’s Seminary, Leeds, where he was ordained priest in July 1896. He was appointed as curate to the Cathedral and from there had often come to Pudsey to assist the priests, both before and after the Carmelites had left. He came to Pudsey as parish priest on 4th May 1908 and was to spend the rest of his life there.
Fr Versteylen soon realised the need for a church building apart from the school and in March 1913, obtained from Belgium a timber framed temporary church, which was to serve the parish for the next twenty years. It was always Fr. Versteylen’s ambition to provide a worthy church for the Catholics of Pudsey and on 17th September 1932 the Foundation Stone of a new church was blessed and laid by Bishop Cowgill.
This is the Church that we now use as a school.