Parish History

PI1The need for a mission in the area was first identified in 1939, but nothing could be done during the war years.

In September 1947 Archbishop Downey appointed Fr John Gillan as priest-in-charge. Fr John took up lodgings in 34 Radley Drive, the home of the Misses Keating, the aunts of Fr Kevin O’Connor who subsequently become the Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool. In October 1947 the parish was placed under the patronage of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At that time the Blessed Sacrament was kept in St George’s, Maghull and parishioners had to travel to other parishes for mass. In April 1948 Fr Gillan obtained permission to reserve the Blessed Sacrament and to say daily mass in the garden shed at the rear of 34 Radley Drive (the shed having been dedicated as a shrine). Sunday masses were celebrated in the old British Legion Hall, that was shared on Sundays with the Methodist Congregation (possibly marking the beginnings of ecumenism in Aintree).

PI2aMass requisites were taken to and from the Legion in an old army munitions wagon know locally as "Wellington’s Wagon". This has been restored and is now kept inside the church. In 1951 Fr Gillan was finally able to complete the purchase of Abby Farm, which consisted of the farmhouse, large barn and grounds where the church, and parish centre now stand. To raise funds for the building, parishioners held coffee mornings, jewellery parties etc. Outdoor collectors went around catholic homes on Sunday afternoons collecting 6d's. An unknown benefactor left the parish a legacy of £1,000.

PI3aAfter an advertising campaign in the Irish press, that reported that the "deprived of Aintree hearing mass in a garden shed" the people of Ireland sent Fr Gillan what was then the not inconsiderable sum of £9,000. This was approximately one-fifth of the total building costs. A loan of £3,000, payable over thirty years was subsequently obtained from the Archdiocese.

Sadly, in October 1954 after laying the foundations of the parish, Fr Gillan retired due ill-health. Fr Gillan was succeeded by Fr Meehan, under whose guidance the old farmhouse was put to use as the presbytery and in time the parish centre, church, infant school, junior School and finally, a new presbytery were all constructed. Building on the church actually commenced on the Feast of the Annunciation, 25th March 1955. The following October the foundation stone was laid and blessed by Archbishop Godfrey. On the 7th October 1956, appropriately on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the church was finally opened.

The large crucifix which hangs over the altar and the beautiful hand-carved Italian statues were introduced into the church over a number of years. The hand-carved Stations of the Cross were hung in 1963. All the statuary and crucifix were paid for from individual, family or group donations (a £50 donation paid for one Station of the Cross).

PI4The Parish family celebrated Fr Meehan’s Golden Jubilee in 1985. Due to his advancing years he retired to the family home in Ireland later that year. Fr William O’Sullivan arrived in November 1985. After thity years of occupancy the church was in need of renewal, repair and re-decorating. For example the central heating system was renewed and the roof repaired at a cost of £50,000.

In February 1989 an open meeting was held to discuss the re-ordering of the Church. Mr Roy Billinge (architect) was subsequently retained to undertake the project. The church was closed on the 20th September 1989 and the contractors commenced work.

Apart from redecorating and carpeting the church, a new lectern, altar table and tabernacle stand were designed to fit the new enlarged Sanctuary.

PI5The large window to the right of the altar was blocked off to reduce glare and help create a better atmosphere, with smaller coloured windows installed (with the new Tabernacle designed to complement these). A new small Blessed Sacrament chapel was formed, using the marble centre from the old altar and part of the altar rails to form the altar. The hanging in the chapel was designed and produced by the Metropolitan Cathedral's Art Department.

PI6PI7The choir loft was partitioned off, redecorated and carpeted for use by various groups. The sacristies were also redecorated, carpeted and fitted with new storage units. Two of the old confessionals were opened up to make a shrine to Our Lady to address a need idenitfied by parishioners. This too incorporates the old altar rails.

During the three months the church was closed the crucifix, statues and stations of the cross were all cleaned and restored under the direction of Mr Priestman from Liverpool Museum.

Fr O’Sullivan retired at the end of January 2001 and was succeeded by Mgr John Butchard.

Mgr John Butchard retired at the end of August 2016 and was succeeded by Fr Vincent McShane.