The purchase of the church by Ukrainian Catholics, 1972-1974

By Ollie Taylor

Photo:The Church of the Good Shepherd, 2012. How many differences can you spot between this 21st century photo and the early 20th century photo below? (click to enlarge)

The Church of the Good Shepherd, 2012. How many differences can you spot between this 21st century photo and the early 20th century photo below? (click to enlarge)

Ollie Taylor

Photo:How many differences can you see between this early 20th century photo of the church and the early 21st century photo of it above? (click to enlarge)

How many differences can you see between this early 20th century photo of the church and the early 21st century photo of it above? (click to enlarge)

Gloucestershire Archives

On 2 September 1972, Reverend Stephen Wiwcharuk and Bishop Augustine Hornyak, the Apostolic Exarch for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain, were shown The Church of the Good Shepherd by its vicar, Reverend Cyril Brick.  In a letter on 7 September to Basil Guy, then Bishop of Gloucester, Bishop Hornyak described its “style, location and size” to be “adequately suitable” for the local Ukrainian community and that he and Rev. Stephen would aim to use it as a place of worship “for as long as there will be Ukrainians and their descendents in Gloucester”.  He also decided that the church would retain the patronage of The Good Shepherd, although this patronage is not a usual one in the Eastern Christian tradition.

After consulting with his Bishop, on 17 August 1973 Rev. Stephen wrote to John Martin, the Diocesan Secretary for Gloucester, offering him £4000 (then the equivalent of about £41,000 today) for the property.  The offer was based on the price that had been paid by Ukrainian Catholics for three similar church buildings in Nottingham (St. Alban’s), Bolton (All Saints’) and Rochdale (St. James).



Photo:The iron finial, designed in the 1880s, still stands on top of the church (click to enlarge)

The iron finial, designed in the 1880s, still stands on top of the church (click to enlarge)

Ollie Taylor

Photo:The architect's oringal design for the church's iron finial (click to enlarge)

The architect's oringal design for the church's iron finial (click to enlarge)

Gloucestershire Archives

After some negotiation, Rev. Stephen agreed the purchase of the Church for £4,750 in a letter dated 14 March 1974 (about £49,000 today).  Although some of the lifelong worshipers at The Church of the Good Shepherd were sad at the sale of their church, they were “glad that the Church would continue in use by a Christian congregation”.

The Ukrainians were very enthusiastic about the acquisition of the new church and by 8 May Rev. Stephen wrote again to John Martin to say that the drive for collecting the money was “progressing nicely” and that the Ukrainian Social Club on Midland Road was helping with the purchase, since many parishioners were also members of the club.  By October, the purchase had been completed and The Church of the Good Shepherd has been home to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church ever since.

If you would like to see any of the original documents used to illustrate these pages on the The Church of the Good Shepherd then please contact Gloucestershire Archives.

This page was added by Ollie Taylor on 19/04/2012.