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HISTORY OF THE RC PARISH of PENZANCE

SOME MASS CENTRES SERVED FROM PENZANCE

The priests of Penzance through the years looked upon their work as covering not only the town but extending to the whole of the Penwith peninsular, and sometimes even further afield. Mass centres and chapels-of-ease have been set up in quite a number of places.

Right from the start, Father Young notes that 'four distant populous stations will be established, one which I will visit every week and preach to the crowds of people who never saw a priest before."

The Oblates, soon after they arrived, started Mass centres at St. Just in 1844 and at Goldsithney in 1845. They also shared Mass Centres with the Redemptorists at Falmouth.

CAMBORNE: the centre of the Cornish tin mining industry, where a Capt. Richard Pike had been converted to Catholicism in 1845. He was the purser at the mines and arranged to have a loft above his coach-house turned into a chapel. This was the start of one of the important Cornish missions, attracting huge numbers of Irish workers - over 2,000 at its peak; but by 1870 the majority had moved away.

HELSTON: the Redemptorists from Falmouth occasionally said Mass here at the centre of the large Lizard peninsular; Mr. Plomer, a solicitor in Helston, was received into the church also in 1845, and he invited the priests to say Mass in his house. When the Penzance mission was re-established, their various priests continued to say Mass at Helston at Mr. Plomer's house. When Canon Shortland took over, the numbers began to grow and in 1858 he hired a large room above an inn, that had been a public billiard room. As many as 50 people would attend his Masses. From 1865, the Helston centre became the responsibility of Father Brindle at Camborne.

A big area of concern was the ISLES OF SCILLY, but so remote and difficult to get to that it had not been considered until the Canons Regular from Bodmin began to take an interest in it in 1930. Prior Richard McElroy purchased the old school premises on the Strand at St. Mary's, and a very lovely chapel has been constructed in the first floor, leaving the ground floor rooms to be formed into a flat for a priest to stay overnight. After the war the responsibility for this Mass Centre was handed over to Penzance, when a curate was appointed mainly for this purpose.

St. Just continues to be one of the regular Mass Centres. Since the War a Sunday morning Mass was said regularly in the Women's Institute Hall. But in 1979 a Saturday evening Mass was started in the Anglican Parish Church of St. Just. [see 2004 update note at foot]

Another Mass Centre was added to the list when St. Teresa's Cheshire Home was opened. [2004 update. Mass is no longer celebrated in St. Teresa's Chapel]

Another Mass Centre was started in 1976, using the Anglican church of St. Andrew at Newlyn for a Sunday evening Mass; but this venture did not last long, being closed in 1982.

So, over the years, the work of the Penzance priests has stretched far outside the confines of the town.

2004 update. Mass is no longer celebrated in St Just ~ ARTICLE link

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created 29th October 2004 - last  revised 3rd March, 2010 v1.03 -