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St. Cuthbert's Church, North Shields.

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The memoirs of Cissie Ewen


Going to church

St. Cuthbert's Church

St Cuthbert's church was three or four streets further along than the school. It was a lovely stone church with beautiful coloured picture windows, and with a very large statue of Michelangelo's Pieta at the back. I always loved going to school and to church. Mam and I used to always go until she got older when she found it too far to walk. I remember Mam once telling me that when I was being christened, the priest said to her, "This child should have a godfather." There had been only Mam and her friend, who was also her neighbour, and Father Haggerty said, "I’ll stand as godfather for her." Years later, when I heard he was at St Bede's in Jarrow, I had a fancy to go to see him; that was when I was at Jesmond, but I never did, which I was sorry about later when I heard he'd died.

At St. Cuthbert’s, there was a very good mixed choir which was well known in North Shields. When there were any films on in Shields that were religious, like 'St. Bernadette,' they would have our St Cuthbert's choir sing with their orchestra, for they were all silent films in those days. On Christmas Eve, we got so many people coming to Midnight Mass, non-Catholics as well as Catholics, that the queue of people waiting to get in went well down the street. They sat on the stairs or stood in the porch. I remember one time they had to give tickets to the regular Mass goers to get into Midnight Mass because of the crowd waiting to get in. The church was always beautifully done out with flowers, and at Christmas time even the pillars holding up the choir loft were bound with green cloth and holly berries.

We had a wonderful priest, Father Kindleside. I believe he had been there all his priestly life; he was there when I started school and when I made my first Communion. I think I had a borrowed dress and veil. I can remember my veil falling off as I entered the porch. We had all marched from the school. There were a big number of us; the boys had marched from St Joseph's. We always marched to church on Holy Days and our weekly Mass or Confession. Father Kindleside was there when I was confirmed, and he performed our marriage ceremony. He was still there when we came to New Zealand. He was loved by everyone, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, and used to visit all the schools in the district on Empire Day and watch the children salute the flag and do their little plays etc. He was well into his nineties when he died.


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