HISTORY OF THE CHURCH AND THE LADY CHAPEL.
The Lady Chapel
BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF ST. ELPHEGE
Most people I have met and mentioned the patron saint of our parish, St. Elphege, almost always say they have never heard of him. I personally never heard of him until I came to serve in a nearby parish, St Margaret of Scotland Parish, Carshalton Beeches, in 2016. I have decided to write a brief note on WHO WAS ST. ELPHEGE so that we, and those visiting our website can get to know about our Patron Saint.
Elphege was born in the year 954, of a noble Saxon family in Weston, Somerset. He became a Benedictine monk at Deerhurst Monastery in Gloucestershire, England at a young age. After few years there, he left to become a hermit at Bath where he later became the Abbot. He was reputed for his piety and sanctity of life. As an abbot, he enforced strict rule to enhance deep spiritual growth and fraternal life. He was appointed Bishop of Winchester in 984 at the age of 30. As a bishop he was noted for his love of the poor for whom he devoted his time and services in extraordinary ways.
In 1006, he was elevated to the rank of archbishop and served as the Archbishop of Canterbury. He furthered the cult of Dunstan and encouraged learning. In September 1011, during the siege of Canterbury by the Vikings, Elphege was captured. On April 11 the following year, his captors, in a drunken spree, and in anger that their ransom had not been paid, pelted him with oxen bones and killed him with an axe.
His body was kept at St. Paul’s Church in London for 11 years. It was later transferred at the order of King Canute to Canterbury Cathedral, his final resting place. Elphege was canonised as a saint in 1078 by Pope Gregory VII. He is a Martyr, whose feast day is celebrated on April 11. In art, St. Elphege is often represented with an axe, a reminder of the instrument with which he was struck dead.
He is the patron of kidnapped victims, Greenwich, and Solihull.
May we be challenged by the courage of St. Elphege to live out our calling fearlessly. May we be richly blessed by his intercession. St. Elphege, pray for us.
FR. PATRICK UDOTAI
A short history of our Parish 1908 – 2020
In 1908, fewer than a hundred parishioners lived in Wallington and Stafford Road was surrounded by lavender fields. The building of the first church, now the Parish Centre, was funded by Miss Florence Ellis, a wealthy heiress who paid for many churches in South London. Why St Elphege? The martyred Archbishop of Canterbury had been Bishop of Winchester and St Mary’s church Beddington was in his diocese so he probably visited our area over a thousand years ago.
The parish grew and a school was opened in 1928 in Castlemead, a large house next to the church. Later, the school was moved to Ross Road but closed in 1954. The fifties was a time of change and growth. Fr Charles Ward arrived in 1950 and enlarged the church, encouraged the growth of parish organisations and social life. A flourishing scout group, youth club, UCM and SVP met in Castlemead which became the parish centre.
It was during Fr John Mulholland’s time that major building work was completed. A new school was built in 1969 in Mollison Drive; it now has a thriving three form entry with outstanding inspections. The present church and presbytery were built in the 70s and the old church was converted into a parish centre. Fr Mulholland encouraged parish life by establishing a pastoral council, family study groups, and welcome evenings for new parishioners. There were now about a thousand parishioners.
Fr Paul Hough came as a curate in the 60s and returned as parish priest in the 80s remaining until 2020. He welcomed visiting priests especially from Poland and Fr Stephen Danso from Ghana who remained for many years as an assistant priest. During these years, the parish became a remarkably diverse congregation with parishioners from all over the world. The school reflected this and we have heard different languages used in the bidding prayers in special Masses.
Over the last few years, four parishioners have been ordained as secular priests serving in the diocese, and a fifth member is soon to be ordained. Parishioners have taken part in ecumenical activities such as the yearly prayer week for Christian unity and the Good Friday walk. The Sutton Deanery has welcomed a Syrian family in response to Pope Francis call and our parish has been in the forefront. Fr Hough retired in January 2020 and we welcomed Fr Patrick Udotai.
Written by Jackie McLoughlin MBE
THE PARISH PRIEST
Rev. Fr. Patrick Dominic Udotai, born 30th March, 1966; ordained a priest of the Diocese of Uyo – Nigeria, on May 29th, 1993; been a parish priest in many parishes in his home diocese; served as a fidei donum priest in two dioceses in Nigeria – Ibadan and Ogoja; has Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Theology from Ss. Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Bodija – Ibadan; and a Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Ibadan – Nigeria; has Certificates in Conflict Transformation across Cultures from School of International Studies (CONTACT), Brattleboro – USA; in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) from Indiana University Health, Indianapolis – USA; and in Catholic Social Teaching from Catholic University of America, Washington DC.
Fr. Patrick also served as the Bishop’s Secretary, Diocesan Chancellor and a member of Catholic Think –Tank Committee on Conflict Resolution for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria.
Fr. Patrick is currently on pastoral mission in the Archdiocese of Southwark, where he has served as an assistant priest in St. Justus Parish, Paddock Wood (June 2015 – April 2016), Parochial Administrator of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish, Carshalton Beeches (April 2016 – January 2020); and currently the Parochial Administrator of St. Elphege’s Catholic Church, Wallington.
My prayer is: Almighty Father, I only wish to be known and called a priest. Therefore, make me nothing but a fragrance of Christ, Your Son, so that everyone who encounters me may perceive and be touched by the scent of Your Son’s love (cf. 2 Corinthians 2: 15).
ASSISTANT PARISH PRIEST
Fr. Gerard Majella Balinnya, born in Uganda and studied for the priesthood in the Junior Seminary from age 13. Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Kampala – Uganda on 29th June 1991. He worked in an urban and a rural parish before he was sent to teach Science in a Minor Seminary (1993- 1997). In September 1997 he went to Lancaster University (UK) to study Chemistry and Biology. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Science in July 2000.
While pursuing a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Management he worked as a College Chaplain in N. West London (2000 – 2013).
From 2000 – 2019 he was based at a Parish in North London helping out in the parish and also working with the Ugandan Catholic Community in the country.
He served briefly in Whitstable, Kent between March 2019 and September 2019 before moving to Corpus Christi Church in Brixton Hill.
Now he is joining St. Elphege’s, Wallington in September 2020. You will come to know more about him with time. Thank you.