ABOUT THE PARISH

THE HISTORY OF ST MARGARET MARY'S

St Margaret Mary's community was originally a daughter Church of Sacred Heart Parish, Fareham (founded in 1878).  As the population of Park Gate, Locks Heath, Titchfield and Warsash grew in size, an outstation was created to serve the community, and a priest came from Fareham every Sunday to celebrate a Mass in the Territorial Army Drill Hall in Bridge Road, Park Gate.  Sunday Mass was at 10.15am to coincide with the local bus services as the priest had an earlier service at Wickham.

When a permanent Church in the area was planned, it was decided that it should be dedicated to St Margaret Mary, because of her devotion to the Sacred Heart.

St Margaret Mary was a French Roman Catholic nun and mystic, who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in its modern form.  She was born on 22nd July 1647 in Le Haute Cour, Burgundy.  At the age of 24 she entered the Visitation Convent at Paray-Le-Monial where she experienced the four great revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  She died at Paray-Le-Monial on the 17th October 1690.  She was canonised in 1920 and her Feast Day is 16th October.

The Church of St Margaret Mary, designed by architect Robert S Shaw, husband of one of the parishioners, was opened and solemnly blessed by Bishop Derek Worlock on 8th January 1966.  It continued to be an outstation of Fareham, and was served by Fr Joseph Rea and his assistants, Fr Cormac Murphy O'Connor (now Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, former Archbishop of Westminster) and Fr Michael Gedge.

It was Fr Gedge who became the first resident priest in the area when he moved into lodgings in Segensworth Road, so as to provide better pastoral care in this part of the Parish.

On 8th September 1967 the new Parish of St Margaret Mary was formed.  Fr Kevin Gallagher was appointed Parish Priest, but as there was no presbytery, the Church community bought a bungalow at 9 Admiral's Road as the priest's residence.  Fr Gallagher was replaced by Fr Desmond Close on 17th April 1969.

St Margaret Mary's Church boundaries are defined as: Southampton Water to the south, the River Meon to the east, the River Hamble to the west and the Fareham to Eastleigh railway line to the north.

Church Boundaries

ST MARGARET MARY CHURCH BOUNDARIES
© OpenStreetMap contributors, CC BY-SA

The building of the current presbytery and church hall started in April 1973.  The hall was opened as a social club on Easter Sunday night a year later, with Fr Close taking up residence in the presbytery at the same time.  Fr Close, who became a Canon while he was at Park Gate, remained as Parish Priest of St Margaret Mary's Parish until 1981 when he was followed by Cn William Murphy.

In the late 1980s Cn Murphy saw the need to build a Catholic Primary school locally.  Together with David White, as interim Chair of Governors, he campaigned for the opening of St Anthony's School.  The plans to develop our school came to fruition when a parishioner, Mrs De Knock, made a major financial bequest.

In recognition of this work, St Anthony's School commemorates these benefactors in a special Mass held once a year.  In the school foyer a stained glass window, created by Helen Thomson, celebrates Cn Murphy's work.  Each pupil is also presented with a special prayer book.

St Anthony's School was designed by Sarah Curl of Curl Tourelle Architects and opened in 1991.  It is a one-form entry Primary School, situated in extensive grounds at Titchfield Common at the southern end of Primate Road.  The school was built to meet the needs of the Catholic Communities of Park Gate, Hedge End, Netley and Whiteley.

On 7th January 1992 Fr James Boyle, a Mill Hill missionary, came to replace Cn Murphy for a period of six weeks .... he left in 2007!

With the Parish community expanding, Fr James sought to increase the space, facilities and the vista of the Church onto Middle Road.  In December 2004 Bp Crispian Hollis blessed the newly completed extension to the Church.  It opened up the Church building to the neighbourhood; gave us a Lady Chapel and sacristy, a new spacious and light Foyer, a meeting room (known as the Paray Room) and kitchenette, a toilet for the disabled and a dedicated Repository.  The new building received a design award from Fareham Borough Council.

The Church is open as much as possible during the day when access to the Lady Chapel is normally normally available for prayer and reflection.

In July 2004, Dr Anthony Strike was ordained as Permanent Deacon by Bp Crispian at St John's Cathedral in Portsmouth

Fr John Cooke was appointed Parish Priest in July 2007 

THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH COMMUNITY AND THE NEW PARISH 

The future of the Diocese is explored in the Pastoral Plan 'Go Out and Bear Fruit'.  It seeks to ensure that our communion leads to the mission for which we are gathered.  The Pastoral Plan seeks first the centrality of the Sunday Eucharist which, more than anything else, establishes us as the gathered community of the disciples of Christ.  In the strength of that communion we are empowered to share in Christ's life and work of transforming the world building the kingdom of God. 

To enable this, the Pastoral Plan seeks the development of larger Pastoral Areas, so that we can harness more effectively the multiplicity of God-given talents and gifts across our Diocesan Community.  This will entail a radical reassessment of our parish culture and of the ways in which we can be more effective as a missionary community.  This looks at amalgamating together the Church communities of the 24 Pastoral Areas across the Diocese, as large parishes.

The Solent Pastoral Area came into being in September 2006 and its boundaries are those of the former Fareham Deanery.  St Margaret Mary's Parish was located in the Solent Pastoral Area.  At the meeting of the Solent Area Pastoral Council in June 2009, consensus was reached that the four parishes should become a single parish. 

On the 1st November 2010 the four Parishes of Park Gate, Lee-on-Solent & Stubbington, Gosport and Fareham & Portchester were supressed and amalgamated into one Canonical Parish, Our Lady Star of the Sea - Fareham and Gosport.

Solent Area Council