Saint Anselm’s Parish Centenary
1909 – 2009
The parish of St Anselm began as a Mission Station of the Parish of the Holy Ghost in Balham, 1905. An old Methodist Church was purchased as a Mass Centre for the people of Tooting Bec. It was in a very dilapidated condition and from the very beginning it was recognised that a suitable church would have to be erected on the site. The first Parish Priest, Father Donovan was appointed in 1909. From that date the Registers of Baptisms, Marriage and Death were kept signifying the establishment of a parish. The patient and tireless work of Father Donovan and his parishioners is well documented in the visitation reports of the Bishop during those early and difficult times. Each report speaks eloquently of the dedication and zeal exhibited by those who founded this Parish, and their determination to erect a worthy place of worship. Father Donovan died worn out by his efforts in the service of the community in 1928 before the building of the present church was commenced. Newspaper reports of the time record the crowds of people of all faiths and none who turned out to honour this humble and gentle pastor.
The work of building the church was completed by Father Le Warne and the people that worshipped in the parish in the 1930’s. They were saddled with an enormous debt which they strove valiantly through the years to pay off. The community grew steadily and much good and hidden work was done by priests and people during those years. Many people have come and gone during these 100 years. Innumerable people have made their contributions which are known to God alone. The years pass. There are wars, difficulties, struggles, personal and communal, but the faith is passed on.
We also celebrate this year with great fervour the 900th Anniversary of our illustrious Patron, Saint Anselm, a man of deep faith and extraordinary intellect. During this year we will make efforts to familiarise ourselves better with his spirit and his work. I draw your attention to the Encyclical letter of Pope Pius X written in 1908 to commemorate Saint Anselm’s 800th Anniversary. There will be a public lecture delivered on Saint Anselm this year. We hope to stock a selection of his works in our parish shop and that in September there will be a Pilgrimage to Bec.
This is but a brief introduction to the life of our parish in this Centenary year of 2009. It is with humble gratitude then, that we thank God for the faith we have received and that we are proud to profess in Christ Jesus Our Lord. The journey continues. It is for us to build on the good foundations laid by those who have gone before. We should also pray for our benefactors and never forget them, both priests and people. There is much this coming year to celebrate and much to look forward to. It is with faith then that we go forward into the unknown future, taking up our cross each day, and following in the footsteps of our Blessed Saviour.