History of the Parish - Consecration of St Joseph's Church

Contemporary account hand-written in 1907

Thursday April 18th was a great and glorious day for the Catholics of Havant. For on that day their Church of St. Joseph was solemnly Consecrated by the Right Revd John Baptist Cahill, Bishop of Portsmouth. His Lordship was assisted by the Right Revd Monsignor Canon Hall, Rector of the Church (Footnote in different writing - "Canon Hall was here from the beginning of December 1906 to July 1909), Fathers Francis Bernard Hutchinson OSB of Petersfield and Fr. Vincent Corney OSB of Ealing (Cantors) Fr. Isidor Kuner of Southsea (Master of Ceremonies) and Fathers O'Leary, O'Doherty, Murphy, Knight, Harvey of the Cathedral, Portsmouth. The ceremony commenced at 9 a.m. and ended at 12.15. The weather was beautifully bright so that the three processions round the church for the blessing of the walls were made by the Bishop and his attendants in comfort and were very picturesque. The fourth procession, when the relics of Ss. Agnes and Cecilia Virgin Martyrs were carried round the Church by priests vested in red chasubles was not only picturesque but very touching, and many an eye was wet with pious tears as the onlookers thought of these glorious Virgin Martyrs of the Early Christian Church.

Very touching also was the ceremony of anointing with the holy Chrism the twelve crosses on the walls of the church each with its lighted taper. But perhaps the most impressive part of the entire ceremony was the consecration of the Altar Stone or table, a beautiful piece of marble some nine feet by two, the placing of the relics of S.S. Agnes and Cecilia in the Sepulchre of the Altar and the sealing of the block of stone covering the sacred deposit. The Bishop then blessed the new Altar cloths, candlesticks and ornaments, which were placed by the assistants on the Altar in preparation for Mass. It is usual for the Consecrating Bishop to say the Mass with which the ceremony ends, but on this occasion His Lordship kindly deputed the Rector to do so, and Canon Hall had the privilege of offering the first Mass on the Newly Consecrated Altar.

In the Evening a large congregation assembled when special hymns and Devotions were used; and during Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament the "Te Deum" was heartily sung by the whole congregation in thanksgiving for the Solemn Consecration of their Church, which all feel to be an occasion for hearty rejoicing and sincere gratitude. After the mornings ceremony Canon Hall entertained at Luncheon Dr. Cahill, Bishop of Portsmouth, the clergy who took part in the ceremony and the principal Laymen of the congregation.