Consecration of St Thomas More Hartley Wintney
22nd June 2017
On Tuesday 20th June Bishop Philip consecrated the restored church and new altar at Hartley Wintney in North East Hampshire Pastoral Area just two days before its patronal feast day, following last year's fire that destroyed its roof.
In his homily, Bishop Philip said "The church now looks more beautiful than ever, thanks to the labours of Fr. Simon [Thomson] and countless members of the parish community. We’re so full of gratitude to the many people who have enabled this work. We’re also immensely grateful to Canon Mark and the community at St John's C of E for allowing the community to celebrate Mass in their church during the breach, a generous ecumenical gesture." He also asked the people to find a way to keep the building open as a place of prayer and quiet.
The relics to be placed in the altar were carried in the entrance procession by the 'Relic Deacon' wearing red in honour of the relics of the saints he was carrying. These relics had been placed in the original altar of St Thomas More's by Archbishop John Henry King 55 years prior to the day of the fire, 17th May 1961. The relics are of St Thomas of Canterbury, St Louis, King of France, King St Edmund and St Richard, King of Wessex.
A reception followed at the local Golf Club at which Parish Priest, Fr Simon Thomson, thanked the many people who had worked so hard to refurbish the church in less than a year and thanked the diocese for the financial assistance given through the Living our Faith fund.
You can see some photos from the celebration below and you can read Bishop Philip's homily here.
The reopening also made BBC News.
You might also be interested in a previous article about the church following the fire here.