From 1878 to 1882 Fr. Lathouwers said Mass in a damp and leaky building, quite unsuited for a chapel. This was how the church of St. Edward's began. In August 1882 the Bishop laid the foundation of the present church, so that St. Edward's was quicker to build a church than its parent mission (St Joseph, Darwen). In June 1886 Fr. Rudolf Claase, one of the devoted young priests from Holland who came to help Bishop Vaughan, was appointed, Father Lathouwers going to Rishton. Until July 1928 the parish was under the benevolent and apostolic rule of Fr. Claase.
When Fr. Claase took charge he found that his mission had a church, a piece of barren land, and some 600 people. He added a presbytery of good design, schools, a convent, a girls' hostel, and an addition to the land. Fr. Claase's deep sincerity, the simplicity and charm of manner which he showed to all, made him a much respected figure in the town and helped the prestige of the Catholic body.
At St. Edward's a well-known and picturesque character, Father "Harry" Atkinson, a self-educated Lancashire man, succeeded Fr. Claase.
Taken from "Salford Diocese and its Catholic past", a survey by Charles A. Bolton, a Priest of the above Diocese. Published 1950 on the First Centenary for the Diocese of Salford.
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