A brief history of our Church
The Parish of Our Lady and St.
Joseph was founded in June 1913, after Father Charles Carless, an enterprising
priest with a gift for fund-raising, managed to collect the £900 needed to build
the first Parish Church. Diocesan surveys listed the parish as the poorest
mission in the Archdiocese of Westminster, and in its early years it was constantly
under threat of closure. The parish expanded rapidly to cover an area of about
one hundred square miles in the nineteen twenties, including Basildon, Bulphan,
Corringham, Fobbing, Horndon on the Hill, Coryton (Kynochtown), Laindon,
Linford, Mucking, Nevedon, Orsett, Pitsea, Shell Haven, Thames Haven and Vange.
The early life of the Parish School
was equally precarious. Its future was guaranteed when the Sisters of Mercy
based at Wanstead agreed to provide qualified teachers to staff the school. The
Sisters arrived in April 1930 and served in the school for over sixty years.
During the post-war building
boom, the Catholic congregation grew rapidly, and the parish had Mass Centres
in Corringham, Horndon on the Hill, East Tilbury, Vange, Pitsea and
Orsett. The gradual rationalisation of
the diocese starting in the nineteen eighties saw all of these Mass Centres
close, until only the Parish Church remained.
In 1989 there was a major fire
in the Parish Church, and investigation revealed that the entire building was
suffering from decay and would have to be pulled down and completely
rebuilt. Many saw the fire as a
blessing in disguise, because without the subsequent diagnosis the older Church
could have collapsed with potential loss of life.
The new Parish Church of Our
Lady and St. Joseph was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. Thomas McMahon, Bishop of
Brentwood, in February 1993. The architect based his design on many Italian
churches. With its pale-yellow brickwork, walnut furniture, Caen stone altar
and deep red carpet, it has the look of a village church with a homely and
welcoming atmosphere. There are traditional stained-glass windows from the
earlier Church together with modern stained-glass windows and an imposing
The current Parish Priest is
Father Paul Dynan, who arrived in the parish in 2010. Unusually, Father Paul is
also the Parish Priest of another, independent parish, Our Lady Star of the
This book is still available to purchase through the Repository