Fr. Earley and Fr. Henry

Fr. Conway was succeeded by Fr. Earley, and for two years he continued the work of his predecessor. It was now becoming obvious that St. Bernard's was ready to become a fully-fledged parish. Fr. Earley was replaced in 1953 by Fr. Murtagh Henry. His letter of appointment referred to his office as Administrator and this was an appropriate word to describe the new incumbent. Fr. Henry was a man of action; a man determined to get things done. He decided that St. Bernard's needed a new church as well as a new school. He put the parish finances on a more firm basis. A new collection: "a shilling a week per worker" was introduced. The football pool was widened in its scope. Inside the entrance to the old chapel a "thermometer" was erected to to record the progress of fund raising. A target of £55,000 was set for the erection of the church.

On April 8th 1957 the building firm of Browne of Wilmslow moved onto the site of the new church. The foundation stone was laid by His Lordship George Andrew Beck on Saturday November 9th 1957. There was a magnificent turnout of around 600 parishioners for the ceremony. Men of the parish formed a guard of honour along the path from the existing chapel to the site of the sanctuary of the new church where the stone was positioned. Forty priests from all parts of the Diocese were present. The Lord Mayor of Manchester, Alderman Leslie Lever M.P. and Lady Mayoress Mrs Lever were guests of honour. Bishop Beck in his sermon spoke of the necessity of the material building of the a church to provide the people with a place where they could lead the fullness of their Catholic lives. He congratulated the congregation for turning out in such large numbers. He thanked the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress for being present on "this historic occasion". Fr. Henry in an interview with the press said that the building alone would cost £40,000 and with fittings the total cost would be £60,000.

On February 20th 1958 St. Bernard's was formally made a parish by Bishop Beck. Fr. Henry was inducted as the first Parish Priest on March 9th 1958 by Dean O'Shaughnessy. On Monday March 30th 1959 St. Bernard's new church was blessed and opened by Bishop Beck. Afterwards he sang the first Mass in the new church. A Dinner Dance to celebrate the occasion was held later that evening at the Grand Hotel, Manchester.

Whilst the construction of the new church was underway, Fr. Henry was negotiating with the Diocese and the Ministry of Education for permission to build a new primary school. Official approval for the school was granted on July 26th 1958. Bishop Beck laid the foundation stone of the school on September 5th 1959. Mr Michael Kelliher was appointed Headteacher of the new Primary School on March 17th 1960.

The school consisted of eight classrooms. Fr. Henry's dynamism and energy were needed elsewhere and in December 1961 he moved to St. Peter's Newchurch-in-Rossendale. He died on April 9th 1966.