Consecration – at Last
All work was completed by Consecration Day, 20 September 1977, when His Eminence Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster, celebrated the Solemn Mass and Service of Consecration, assisted by Father Chadwick.
During the Service of Consecration of the Church and Altar, holy relics were taken in procession around the church and buried below the altar. These were relics of St John Southworth, one of the 40 English martyrs and whose body is interred at Westminster Cathedral.
The altar and the 12 consecration crosses in brass sconces (which are ranged at intervals along the walls of the church as symbols of the 12 Apostles on whom Christ founded his Church), were anointed with chrism. Symbolic fire was lighted on the altar, followed by incensing of the walls of the church and the people congregated there. The paschal candle was lighted, along with the lights before the consecration crosses. Finally the altar was consecrated, clothed, and a special prayer of consecration made. Each year on 24 September the parish celebrates the anniversary of this day by keeping the Solemnity of the dedication of the church and burning lights at the 12 consecration crosses.
During the consecration service, Bene Merenti medals (awarded by the Pope, then Paul VI, for outstanding service to the Church) were presented to two parishioners —Mr Thomas Walsh for his services as steward in the parish, and Irene Offord for her work of religious instruction.
At the time of its consecration, the Bushey church received many gifts from its parishioners. Among these are a magnificent gold vestment donated in memory of James Pyrke which was worn by the Cardinal for the Consecration service; red carpet for the altar from the Women’s Guild, and the consecration crosses from the Social Club. Gifts have continued — a group of ladies replaced the altar servers cassocks; a tabernacle cover was donated to match the gold vestment; an anonymous donor gave a Livingston Burge ‘Chantor’ 2/61 organ; parishioners contributed to the carved wooden stations of the cross. A particularly significant item is the ciborium (the vessel in which consecrated hosts are held) which had been used during the Mass celebrated at Wembley by Pope John Paul II during his visit in May 1982.