St. Augustine of Canterbury Church, Leeds Centenary Book.1905-2005

Legion of Mary
The first meeting of the Legion of Mary at St Augustine’s was in 1943 under the Presidium name of ‘Our Lady of Compassion’. Legion activity was suspended during the latter part of the Second World War but has been operative in the parish from 1964 to the present. Whilst many parishioners have been involved over the years, either as Active or Auxiliary Members, three names are worthy of special mention: Winnie Havern, the first President, Colin Browne, Secretary over many years and Margaret Johnson active well into her 80s in the cause of the Legion. The Legion of Mary is still active in the parish and meet each Monday evening.

Parish Magazine
Looking through some old parish notices there are references to a parish magazine being sold in the 1940s, but there are no details as to who organised or edited it. Colin Browne started editing and printing a quarterly magazine in the Spring of 1991, using an old typewriter and manually arranged and glued pictures and print onto an A4 sheet that he would then photocopy. Colin also designed and printed a monthly prayer leaflet (Powerhouse) which proved very popular especially among the elderly, sick and housebound. Copies of these were sent to other parishes who requested them. Sadly, Colin died on 1st November 1998, but his memory lives on. His monthly prayer leaflets have been reprinted and are frequently still being made available.

Walking Group
One of the newest groups that has formed in recent years and proved very popular is the walking group, initially called “Walking for Health”. The group was the brainchild of Pauline Ryan.

The walks usually take place fortnightly on a Saturday or Sunday, travelling by car into the countryside near to where the walk is to take place.

Union of Catholic Mothers
One of the first things Fr. O’Donavan did when he became parish priest was to enlist the help of Marie Walker in establishing a branch of the Union of Catholic Mothers in the Parish. This was in 1963 and within a few years membership increased resulting in thirty to forty mothers attending the weekly meetings Each meeting started with the UCM prayers and the parish priest would give a spiritual reading and lead a discussion related to the reading. The rest of the evening was given over to socialising and for the young mums who worked full time in the home it was a cherished “night out”.

The group assisted in the life of the parish by organising jumble sales, helping at other fund raising events such as the summer and Christmas fayres and they could always be relied upon to provide refreshments when the bishop visited for confirmations and on other special occasions. The mothers also gave each other mutual support and advice especially on issues relating to the rearing of their children.

St Augustine’s Concert Party
In the 1960s they formed a concert group that proved popular and practised on a Saturday afternoon. Edgar Oldroyd had given them the idea as he had been in amateur dramatics. Ken Wallis did the lights and his wife Biddy was the dresser. They rummaged through jumble at jumble sales to acquire the necessary props and costumes for their productions which consisted of acting out short scenes and dancing and singing songs from popular musicals. After performing in front of packed audiences in their own parish they travelled about providing entertainment at charity fund raising and social events in other parishes and elderly people’s nursing homes. One year they went round to people in the parish and sang outside their houses using the parish bus for transport. Hannah recalls, “We used to have our lanterns and sing carols and we also took them a little parcel.”

St Augustine’s UCM choir who performed at the Lounge Hall Royal Baths, Harrogate as part of the celebrations for the UCM Diamond Jubilee on 23rd June & 21st July 1973

Above: UCM dancing with balloons.

Who do you recognise?

A rendition of ‘Singing in the Rain’, UCM style.

When they took their show to Harrogate a talent scout saw them and wanted four of the members (Hannah Gilmartin, Eleanor Oldroyd, Anne Raynor and Mary Redmond) to sign up for some professional work! Hannah and Mary, now widowed and retired, still live and work in the parish and look back on those days with nostalgia, describing what a fabulous time they used to have and possibly secretly wondering how successful they might have been if they had signed that contract!