Loyola Hall crucifix passed to new church
A crucifix from Loyola Hall Retreat Centre has found a new home - suspended over the altar in the brand new church dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes in Hungerford, Berkshire. Parishioner Paul Burrough turned to the Jesuits when he was looking for furnishings to adorn the church replacing the ‘temporary’ 1939 structure. The first Mass in the new church in April attracted over 200 people – about twice the number who used to attend in the old church.
“I was a Jesuit boy, educated at Beaumont,” explains Paul. “When our architect showed us drawings of the sanctuary, with a large crucifix over the altar, the committee discussed buying a new one. I thought ‘No, no, surely the Jesuits might have one – possibly from Beaumont College [which closed in 1967]’.”
Paul contacted the Jesuit Provincial Offices in London, who put him in touch with Loyola Hall. With the closure of the Merseyside spirituality and retreat centre imminent, the Jesuits were able to provide Our Lady of Lourdes parish with a striking focal piece for the sanctuary. “I did have the crucifix cleaned and polished before it was suspended,” says Paul. “It looks wonderful and creates a moving and prayerful atmosphere in the church. And it feels very fitting to have a Jesuit crucifix in a new church in the same era that we have a ‘new’ Jesuit Pope.”
The Jesuits were able to donate the crucifix to Our Lady of Lourdes when Loyola Hall was closed at Easter. The last event at the Merseyside spirituality centre was Alice’s Woodland Easter Trail (pictured below) which enabled Easter egg hunters to make full use of Loyola Hall’s 20 acres of gardens and woodland, while raising funds for Willowbrook Hospice, St Helens.
Loyola Hall was the family home of the Brethertons, who owned much of Rainhill on Merseyside. Devout Roman Catholics, they bequeathed the Hall to the Jesuits in 1923, at a time when the area as tranquil countryside. The Jesuits offered residential and day religious spirituality courses there for the more than 90 years, until it was decided last year that they would withdraw from the property and provide residential retreats instead at St Beuno’s Spirituality Centre at St Asaph, North Wales.