Twenty-six years of Pastoral Service
The St Thomas More Centre for Pastoral Liturgy was opened by Fr Harold Winstone at 7a Henry Road, Manor House, North London in 1969, under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster. It was administered with a new parish carved out of the extremities of three existing parishes in 1973.
Abbot Francis Rossiter OSB and Fr Edmund Flood OSB, both of Ealing Abbey, were members of the original “Council of Reference” for the project. The parish itself started off life in the bar of the local pub, then moved to the hall of the local international Catholic students’ hostel. The Centre began on the ground floor of a nearby house, next door to a brothel unwittingly owned by the Commissioners of the Church of England, while Fr (later Canon) Winstone himself lived in a bed-sit just outside the new parish boundary. In the course of time both Centre and parish were merged in a new purpose-built church, hall and offices on the site of the former brothel.
For over 20 years from its foundation the Centre was a mecca for liturgists and pastoral musicians around the world interested in post-Vatican II pioneering work. Visitors from all over the world came to see what was happening there. As well as doing much basic parish liturgical formation in the Archdiocese, the Centre published much in the way of groundbreaking pamphlets and music. Following in the footsteps of Stephen Dean, one of Winstone’s original assistants who later founded Decani Music (www.decanimusic.co.uk), Paul Inwood worked there for thirteen years (1974-87) and founded Magnificat Music(www.magnificatmusic.com) and what later became the St Thomas More Group of composers.
When Winstone, now a Canon of the Archdiocese, retired, his curate and assistant director Fr Michael Shaw became Director of the Centre and expanded its work, to the point where it had to leave its parish base and was relocated in what later became the North London Pastoral Area offices in Hendon. The parish continued its existence separately. When Shaw resigned as Director, his successor had a very different sense of direction; and the Centre became eventually simply a distributor and seller of books and music. The Archdiocese decided to close the Centre in 1995.
Fr Harold Winstone, who for a number of years was chair of the Advisory Committee of ICEL and himself did an amount of the original translation work on the 1973 ICEL Roman Missal, was also co-chair of the interdenominational group ICET along with Canon Ronald Jasper, chair of the Church of England’s liturgical commission. It is in large part due to the collaboration of these two scholars, along with others, that the liturgical convergence of the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches was so marked in the 1970s and 80s. The two other distinguished members of England’s liturgical “triumvirate” were Mgr James Crichton in Pershore and Fr Clifford Howell SJ; and it is fair to say that without them and their vast corpus of writings, lectures and other material, certainly deserving of further study, the post-conciliar liturgical reform in England would never have happened in the way that it did.
The literary production of the St Thomas More Centre for Pastoral Liturgy began in 1969 with a cyclostyled Liturgy Newsletter, but by 1970 or 1971 the Newsletter was being properly produced for the Centre by the publishing house Geoffrey Chapman. The Centre’s Editor of the newsletter was Stephen Dean, and Chapman’s desk editor supervising its production was Paul Inwood. When Stephen left the Centre and Paul went there to work, Paul became the Editor of the Newsletter (1974-1978).
Philip Jakob, who lived and worked in London until 1994, was a member of Westminster Diocese Liturgy Commission and actively involved with the St Thomas More Centre.
The Liturgy Newsletter was later edited by Fr Christopher Walsh at the ‘Institute of Liturgy and Mission’ in Salisbury until 2000, after which it was produced at the Liturgy Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Ecclestone Square, Victoria, London.
In addition to Liturgy Newsletter, the St Thomas More Centre for Pastoral Liturgy produced a great deal of resource material, and certainly this continued to be produced on a Gestetner duplicator until the mid-1970s, after which it too went into printed formats.
The Centre produced publications:
Lord, by your Cross and Resurrection, its resource book for Holy Week.
He comes to set us free, a resource book for Advent,
Three Talks on Penance, and the series Pastoral Care.
The new marriage rite : a study book: the Roman rite and the rite proper to England and Wales, with an introduction, G. Chapman, London 1970.
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults: A Study Book, G. Chapman, London 1988.
as well as many others, including musical settings.
If any reader of this page has spare copies of any of the Centre’s publications, including the early Gestetner (cyclostyled) copies, Fr James Leachman OSB would be very grateful to receive them for the reference section at the library of the Liturgy Institute in Ealing for the use of future researchers.
See page: St Mungo Music, Glasgow
This page was written by J.G. Leachman, OSB, with many thanks to Paul Inwood, Director of Liturgy, Diocese of Portsmouth.
© James Leachman, O.S.B., 17 February 2011