St Richard Gwyn Communities of
Chirk, Llangollen and Ruabon
Church of The Sacred Heart
Mass Times: (please check Notices page for changes)
Sunday 9 am
Holydays 10 am
Weekdays 10 am Tuesday and Thursday
CHURCH OF THE SACRED HEART
The Church of the Sacred Heart, Chirk was opened on March 17th 1929by Bishop Francis Vaughan. It was built and furnished at the expense of the then Dowager Lady Trevor of Brynkinallt. She was a member of the old Catholic Petre family, who had kept the faith through penal times, when, to be discovered to be a Catholic or found to be attending Mass resulted in a fine, imprisonment or worse.
The Catholic parish, or mission as it was known in those days, had seen its beginnings at the turn of the century, when, from about 1902, Lady Trevor would take a Mrs Pearce, recently settled in Chirk, to Mass in Oswestry in a pony and trap.
Mrs Pearce was the wife of a collier, who came to Chirk seeking employment when Platt Bridge Pit in Lancashire exploded. Both of the Pearces were Catholics — a mixture of Irish and Lancashire Catholicism on either side. They were subsequently to have ten children.
In 1905, a Roman Catholic chapel of wooden construction was erected in the grounds of a hospital founded by Lady Trevor at Chirk Green. At this time, there were about 20 Catholics. Other families had come to Chirk from England. Most of the men were colliers, one being better known as the village pig-killer.
After Lord Trevor's death in 1923, the chapel was removed and Mass was said by a visiting priest in the Drill Hall, until the church, designed to hold 100, was opened. It served a very wide area, the nearest churches being Wrexham and Oswestry. By this time there were about 40 Catholics in the area.
During the Second World War, Chirk received its share of evacuees Chirk was congratulated on the arrangements for the reception of 100 adults – mothers, teachers and helpers and 258 children from Broad Green, Liverpool. There were, of course, Catholics among them, which swelled the congregation at Sacred Heart. By this time, Chirk had a resident priest, Fr Garret Phelan on loan from Ireland.
In 1948 a convent school, run by Dominican Sisters opened in Chirk and Mass was said in the church by Fr Shannon, who visited from Llangollen.
It was at about this time, perhaps influenced by Vatican II, Anglicans, Catholics and Methodists grew closer together. There were shared services, a revived 'Women's World Day of Prayer' and a Good Friday Joint Walk of Witness being some examples. More recently there is a shared Bible study with both Anglicans and Methodists
For many years now there has been no resident priest in Chirk. So, eventually, the communities of Chirk, Llangollen and Ruabon were combined , with one priest, resident in Ruabon to serve the three former parishes. Our present priest is Fr Moses Amune MSP, from Nigeria.
St Richard Gwyn was chosen as the patron of the three communities. A poet and schoolmaster, he was martyred for his faith in 1584, by being hanged drawn and quartered in the Beast Market in Wrexham
It is fitting that he is our patron, because it is more than likely that, during the dark days of persecution, he attended Mass in Chirk, at the Edwards' house, Plas Newydd in the 1570s. For the Edwards were recusants and supported the priest-missionaries coming from the Continent, Richard Gwyn being their agent. Those were difficult days.
SOME OF THE PRIESTS WHO HAVE SERVED CHIRK
Fr Garret Phelan
Fr Patrick Shannon
Fr Oswald Murphy
Fr William Connery
Fr Patrick Kirwan
Fr Roger Spencer
Fr Stephen Tarpey
Fr Patrick Sinnott
Fr Charles Lloyd
Fr Joseph Stuart
Fr Moses Amune MSP