Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon (Roman Catholic)

History

The church was founded in 1887, commissioned by the wealthy Edith Arendrup, designed by Frederick Walters, and administered by the Society of Jesus (or Jesuits). Building continued on the church until 1901. In 1990 a new altar and tiled floor were installed, and in 2013 the administration of the parish was handed over from the Jesuits to the Archdiocese of Southwark. Next door are church halls refurbished in 2008, in which various community groups are hosted.

Appearance

The large church is in the Gothic style, with pointed arches and pillars inside above each of which is a statue of a saint or angel. Stained glass windows display saints, martyrs, and Christ either crucified or as king of glory. Pictures of the stations of the cross adorn the side walls of the nave, to the left of which is a side-chapel dedicated to the souls of Caroline Currie and her husband, benefactors to the church who funded the construction of one of the aisles. Plaques in memory of other former parishioners are dotted around, and at the back left of the church is an ornate font behind a closed metal gate. Near to that is a large statue of Mary holding Christ, dead after the crucifixion, as well as some candles. Candles burn at the back right of the church as well, near to which is a large crucifix and stairs going up to the choir gallery.

At the very front of the church is the old altar, replaced in 1990 and now used as a large tabernacle for Eucharistic reservation. In front of this is the current altar, on which two candles burn. To the left of the altar is a wooden pulpit (with a plaque next to it in memory of a priest who died while preaching from it) and to the right of the altar is a statue of the Virgin Mary. Above the sanctuary area is a large crucifix, flanked by images of Mary, St. John, and angels.

Clergy

The service was led by a priest in green and golden vestments, helped by three other men (probably deacons or sub-deacons of some sort) in white and red vestments. There was also a choir, although as they were situated in the upper gallery at the back of the church I was unable to see how many people it was comprised of.

Congregation

There was a large congregation, numbering somewhere between 110 and 120, with a mix of ages and ethnicities and a roughly equal balance between the genders.

Service

Organ music began to play about five minutes before the beginning of the service, which started with a hymn during which the priest censed a crucifix on a pole. There were then prayers of confession, followed by Gloria being sung. One of the deacons then ascended the pulpit and gave a reading from Isaiah. This was followed by Psalm 26 being used as a responsive prayer, after which the deacon gave the second reading, from 1 Corinthians. It was then time for the Gospel reading, which was done with a lot more ceremony – the priest brought a Bible up from the altar to the singing of “Alleluia” , flanked by two of the deacons holding large candlesticks and the other with an incense thurible, and read the passage from Matthew on the calling of the first disciples.

The priest then gave the sermon, on the subject of making time in our lives for prayer. This was followed by the Roman Catholic version of the Nicene Creed being sung in Latin, after which there were some prayers in English, and then another prayer sung in Latin. The collection was then taken, during which time the choir sang and the priest and deacons prepared the communion bread and wine at the altar.

After this, there were some more prayers, and the choir sung the Sanctus (“Holy, holy, holy Lord…”), after which there were more prayers during which the priest lifted up the wafer and wine to be used for communion, and then the Lord’s Prayer. The congregation shared the sign of peace, and after some more prayers communion was served.

At the end of communion, the unused elements were placed in a tabernacle at the far end of the sanctuary, after which there were some more prayers and then some announcements. The priest then blessed the congregation and ended the service, which had lasted for roughly an hour and ten minutes.

Afterwards

Most of the congregation left the church after the service had finished, with some staying behind in the pews to pray in silence. Unlike other churches I have been to, there did not seem to be a place where refreshments were served afterwards, although I may have simply overlooked one.

One Response to Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon (Roman Catholic)

  1. Pingback: Our Lady of the Rosary, Sutton (Roman Catholic) | slchurchreviews

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