St Joseph (originally St William) Roman Catholic, Darwen
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The mission was founded in 1856 as a chapel-of-ease to St Alban`s, Blackburn and dedicated to St William. A new church was opened in 1885 and the Mission was rededicated to St Joseph.
A centre for Mass had been attempted as early as 1845 by Father Ward. A school-chapel built by Fr. Joseph Meaney from Blackburn and opened in 1856 was the real foundation of the mission. To this church Bishop Turner sent a resident priest early in 1858, Fr. Desiderius Van Den Weghe. The mission at this time was dedicated to St. William but was later dedicated to St. Joseph. The building-up of this fine parish was the life work of Fr. Van Den Weghe. He asked the Bishop to open the new church in October 1885. Two years before his death he had opened new schools. He died suddenly and was buried at Darwen.
In 1877 and 1878 two young priests died shortly after being sent as assistants to this mission. Conditions must have been most unhealthy at this time. An account of Fr. Hampson and Fr. Kopp will be found elsewhere. Fr. J. Lathouwers, the assistant who came after them, started a new mission in Lower Darwen.
At St. Joseph's a great deal of the development since the death of the founder took place under Fr. Michael McGrath, who became Canon Theologian of the Diocese at St. Patrick's, Oldham.
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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