The Pleta Statue

1997 was a momentous year for SFX. There was a small but steady rise in the numbers attending Mass, and more than once throughout the year the old church was filled to overflowing, much like the great days of past. Eleven children made their First Holy Communion in June; the highest number for some years, and many proud family members filled the church. A week later SFX was full again as Father Peter Randall SJ celebrated his First Mass as priest.

In September the Marian Fiesta, organised by the Prayer Group and friends, was a great success and once again the church was full. It was a very special day which made a big impression on all who were there. The Marian Fiesta is now an annual event at SFX. In December the church resounded to the joyful singing of carols as a congregation of 1000 joined in Carols by Candlelight, yet another event which has become a regular on the SFX calendar.

The Prayer group met every Tuesday in the Sodality Chapel and as well as organising the Marian Fiesta, the group was also responsible for the Pilgrimages to Rome and San Giovanni. Forty people made the trip and were thrilled to be at the Papal Mass at which St Therese was made a Doctor of the Church. Further Pilgrimages were planned. An ecumenical course on Christianity and Social Issues was held at SFX in 1997 and this to was so successful it was to be repeated in future years.

The Church established strong links with the Whitechapel Project for the Homeless which was housed in the old select school building and the workers on the project regularly used the big back room of the Sacristy for their educational programme. Also several very successful parish and reunion dances were held in 1997 and 1998.

The Organ and loft
Statue of Our Lady of Francis Xavier

The Men’s Club, always a pillar of the Church, met in its basement premises in the old presbytery and actively involved itself in SFX life. A new social club was planned for the Hope complex when the presbytery was demolished.

The Pensioners’ club met every Tuesday afternoon. The Group had a successful year which includes a Christmas party and a trip to a pantomime. They were expecting to increase their numbers during 1998 by providing a special event every month.

Although the increase in the numbers attending Mass was modest, rather than dramatic, there was a great buzz of optimism about SFX in its 150th year. Indeed, the opening of the anniversary year was marked on 3rd December 1997 with a Solemn Mass celebrated by Archbishop Kelly. It was a marvellous occasion with the old church once again full to overflowing.