31st May 1941

31st May 1941

Bishop Marshall blessed the newly constructed chapel on the eve of Pentecost May 31st 1941. The Bishop was assisted by the Vicar-General Monsignor A.McNulty, Monsignor J.Masterson, Parish Priest of St. Mary's Levenshulme, Canon J.Rowntree, Parish Priest of St. Cuthbert's, Canon J.Ward, Dean Dunleavy of St. Augustine's, All Saints, and many local clergy. The congregation numbered 250. In October 1941 the Registrar General issued a Certification of Registration for St. Bernard's to be used as a "place for religious worship". In September 1942 the chapel was issued with a certificate authorising the use of the building for the Solemnisations of Marriage. The new chapel was able to accommodate 150–180.

In September 1941 the hallway of the house was incorporated into the church. In February 1943 two small rooms at the side of the chapel were fitted with a double folding door as that they could be used as a standing are for Sunday Mass. On Easter Day 1943 Fr. McNulty noted that at the 9am Mass there were: 235 seated in the chapel, 61 standing in the chapel, 62 seated and standing in the new annexe.

The parish continued to prosper. There were three Masses each Sunday at 8, 9 and 11am. Fr. McNulty relied on a supply priest coming to St. Bernard's each Sunday from St. Bede's College. Each Sunday afternoon there was a Benediction at 3pm. At 6–30pm there was "children's instructions" for those children attending local state schools. Miss Mary Agnes Berrell was the first catechist. During the week there was daily Mass at 8am. Benediction was also celebrated each Thursday evening. Confessions were heard each Saturday between 6–8pm. On Sunday the 9am was a children's Mass, though for some years the number of children attending must have been small as many young children had been evacuated from Burnage. Altar boys must have been in short supply. The names of some the early altar boys have been preserved: Joseph Hogan (Junior) M.C., Brian Allen, Maurice Allen, Charles Williams, Derek Black, Terence Black. Confraternities were set up for both men and women. A branch of the Sodality of the Children of Mary was founded. Miss Margaret Egan was its president. A parish choir was formed. Miss Helen Condon was its first organist. The Mass census for Trinity Sunday 1943 shows the rapid growth of the parish: 8am – 107, 9am – 227, 11am – 254, total 588. Fund raising made great inroads into the parish debt. The alterations of the Lodge meant that the Parish owed the Diocese £3,400 in December 1941. By December 1945 that had been reduced to £1,932.

"Fr. Mac", as Fr. McNulty was universally known, was loved by everyone. "A friendly, kindly and jovial priest ideally suited to bring people together in the early war years" is one parishioner's description of him. Soon after the church was opened, Burnage was bombed. Fr. McNulty visited and comforted all the people, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. This action helped to dispel a certain bigotry which had arisen locally on the opening of the Catholic chapel.