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History of the church:
In July 1946 it was noted that Stella Maris School had 89
children on the books. Of these 20 were non Catholics and
a sign of the disruption of the war 45 of the 69 Catholic
children had not yet made their First Holy Communion and 24
of the children over 8 had not yet been confirmed When the
Autumn term commenced on 9th September there were 95 children
on the roll.
At the beginning of 1947 the very sad problem arose of finding
a Polish priest who could hear the confessions of 60 Polish
mental and nervous war invalids at Castle Glen Lower Sandgate
Road. This was solved with diocesan assistance
At about this time it was decided that a mini bus was needed
to bring pupils to Stella Maris School from outlying districts.
In September 1948 the Folkestone Foundation of the Union of
Catholic Mothers was initiated at a meeting of twenty prospective
members under the chairmanship of Fr Walmsley. Mrs. Allen
the mother of fifteen children was the first president. The
official inauguration took place on New Year's Night 1949
The Re-ordering of the Church after
In 1970 one of the first matters to which the new parish priest
had to address himself was the alteration of the church to
conform to the revised order for the celebration of Holy Mass.
On the 5 June 1970 Fr Roskilly called a meeting preliminary
to the setting up of Parish Council. The aims and objectives
of the council were defined at a meeting on 11 June 1970 and
the first business meeting took place on 22 June.
In the early months of 1971 the Parish Council considered
the estimates for the renovation of the church. There was
very little money. To meet this large expense, plans were
made to hold two moneymaking events each year: one in June/July
and the other in December. The covenant scheme had been launched
and it was noted with satisfaction that fifty-five covenants
had been made.
A matter causing anxiety was the announcement by the authorities
that a new road to increase the flow of traffic would cut
Guildhall Street in two in the vicinity of the church. It
would be isolated from the town centre by a fast moving stream
of traffic and access to the church would be made difficult
for pedestrians and motorists alike.
The parish priest and parish council started the year 1972
with three matters demanding attention. The restoration of
the church, the alterations for the new order of the Mass
and a worthy memorial to Fr Walmsley, who died in July 1971.
In the summer of 1973 the decision was taken to dedicate the
restoration of the High Altar and sanctuary to the memory
of Fr Walmsley. Careful husbanding of resources had now made
this financially possible. The work was placed in the hands
of an Irishman, Mr. J.J. Frame, who had specialized in similar
church restorations in Gibraltar and Malta. The wooden canopies
were removed from their positions above the figures of Our
Lady and Saint John. The painted panels of saints together
with the elaborately carved woodwork into which these were
set were also taken down. A simple altar enabling Mass to
be celebrated facing the people was erected using some of
the material from the original altar. The pulpit, which had
stood on the left hand side of the church, was dismantled
and re-erected in the form of two reading desks - one on each
side of the sanctuary. Clusters of white opal glass lighting
fittings were installed in the nave and the area above the
oak paneling of the walls was repainted in a gray stone colour.
The floor and steps of the sanctuary were covered with durable
gold coloured carpet, the magnificent ceiling of the church
was cleaned and the two hundred and nine painted and gilded
monogram bosses were refurbished. Our Lady's figure above
the Lady altar was gilded - as was the figure of St Aloysius.
In this way the church was transformed to accord with the
requirements of the new liturgy but the excesses of change
that took place in some parishes were avoided.
All the work in connection with the restoration and decoration
of the church was completed early in 1975 and the new free
standing altar ready for consecration. On the eve of the feast
of St Eanswythe, Thursday 11th September, the new altar was
formally consecrated by Bishop Charles Henderson, Auxiliary
In the summer of 1978 Mr. Bye retired from the headmastership
of Stella Maris School. At a presentation on 30th June a gift
of Waterford crystal glass was made to him by the two Folkestone
parishes. He was much moved by a Papal Blessing that had been
obtained in recognition of his service to the school. Mr.
Nicholas Crangle took over as head teacher when the autumn
All in the parish were very happy when Kevin Fitzgerald, an
old Stella Mans pupil, went to St John's Seminary, Wonersh,
to study for the priesthood. He had worked in the parish as
MC at Mass, as scoutmaster, as secretary of the parish council
and in other capacities. He was the first young man from the
parish for many years to seek ordination.
Visit of the Pope to Canterbury
At the beginning of August Pope Paul VI died and he was succeeded
by Pope John Paul I, who also died suddenly at the end of
September. On 16th October the election took place of the
first non-Italian Pope for 450 years. Karol Wojtyla, the Polish
Cardinal Archbishop of Cracow, became supreme pontiff under
the title of Pope John Paul II.
The year 1980 opened with the consecration of a Bishop in
Kent as the Archbishop had discussed with the parishes and
deaneries two years before. Fr John Jukes OFM Conv. was consecrated
Bishop on 30 January. Bishop Jukes was given special responsibility
for Kent within the Archdiocese of Southwark.
Membership of the Catholic Women's League had been shrinking
for several years and now ceased to be a separate entity.
Some of the members joined the Young Wives Club, formed the
year before, others were already associated with the Union
of Catholic Mothers.
The main event of 1982 was the visit of His Holiness Pope
John Paul II to Britain. After months of preparation the great
event took place in the month of May. Fr Hogg led a party
from the parish to the great open air Mass at Wembley Stadium.
Another party were able to see His Holiness in the precincts
of Canterbury Cathedral. Some young members even made the
journey to Cardiff and participated in the Youth Rally at
Ninian Park stadium.
End of the XX Century
In 1984 Fr Roskilly asked the Archbishop if he could relinquish
his responsibilities as parish priest. His incumbency of fifteen
years was the third longest in the parish's history. Fr Roger
Nesbitt was appointed to the parish and arrived on 3 September.
This was his first appointment as parish priest. He came to
Folkestone from the parish of St. Saviour's, Lewisham in SE.
London. He had previously taught Religion and Science at John
Fisher School in Purley, Surrey.
The decision was now taken to introduce a 9.3Oam Mass in the
church on Sundays to take the place of the 10 am service at
the Railway Hall. With some regret and nostalgia, the hall
ceased to serve as a Mass Centre after 25 November 1984. A
regular coffee morning was established after this new Mass,
which proved to be very convenient and popular for those with
young families. None of the friendly and family atmosphere
that prevailed at the Railway Hall was lost in the change.
On one Sunday each month this is primarily the Stella Maris
School Mass. Attended by pupils and staff, the schoolchildren
read the lessons, sing, prepare and read the bidding prayers
and take up the offertory gifts.
At the end of June 1985 an act of sacrilege took place when
the Seventh Station of the Cross was stolen. Some weeks later
a man was charged with the theft and destruction of this sacred
treasure. Over the years the church, in common with other
places of worship, has attracted the attention of sneak thieves.
Candlesticks, a sanctuary bell, an antique table and other
objects have been stolen. Being always open for private prayer
and meditation the church is very vulnerable. Sadly, the lurking
petty robber has to be accepted as a fact of church life.
On 29 July 1985 the first 'Faith Summer Break' was instituted.
Twenty five young people came to stay in the parish accompanied
by two young priests. The aim was a deepening of faith and
definite instruction was given in a relaxed atmosphere. The
event was a great success and now takes place every summer.
A Parish Hall Committee was formed early in 1986 by some dozen
members of the congregation in the twenty to thirty plus age
group. They planned the work to be done to bring the hall
up to date and provided the labour themselves. For months
the area was a scene of continuous activity. In addition they
raised most of the cost of materials used by mounting events
such as sales, parties, barbecues and a boot fair. The committee
also contacted various businesses and corporations for help.
The UCM made and presented new curtains. The hall has emerged
as the most modern and best appointed of all church premises
in the town.
Since the theft of the Station of the Cross a search was made
for a set of identical pictures. The quest ended at Storrington
Church in Sussex. By a sophisticated photographic process
a copy was made - hardly distinguishable from the original.
The statue of St John Baptist together with the original stone
font were removed from the second church porch to the area
under the organ loft. The church heating was overhauled. Two
large cabinets with flat tops to accommodate newspapers, missalettes
and so on were installed at the back of the church. A new
sound system was put in together with a 'loop' system for
the benefit of the hard of hearing.
In the spring of 1988 the statue of Our Lady holding the broken
body of Christ, the Pieta, was removed from what had now become
the baptistry to the original position of the font in the
second church porch. The whole area was renovated and a curtain
placed across the exit door creating a chapel in honour of
Our Lady of Sorrows.
On the afternoon of 28 July the oak paneling near the Fourth
Station of the Cross was found to be ablaze. The fire was
quickly extinguished but it could have engulfed the whole
building. It was most probably started by malice and it represents
one of the problems of our church in the "Inner City"
of Folkestone of the 1980's.