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The History of the Catholic Church at Water Street/ Church Street
A short history of St.Joseph`s church Aberavon./Aberafan
It must be made most clear that the following description of the History
of St. Joseph`s Church Aberavon, is from the work of Mr. James O`Brien
.The History of St.Joseph`s edited by Allen Blethyn. June. 2006.
During the early 1800s. 1800-1848. the fortress of the Catholic faith
in this part of South Wales, was at Brecon.
In 1803 Mass being taken in a part of the old Castle, before the first chapel was built at Nelson Place in 1813, and then having a resident priest from 1824, it was to here that the catholic people of Aberavon travelled to for their main church needs, like the baptisms of children and marriages.
Between 1846-50 during the Famine period the Catholic population of Aberavon
grew in number, and so in 1849 the Catholic`s of Aberavon requested of
Dr.Brown, Vicar Apostolic of Wales to supply the town with its own priest.
All the time the Aberavon people preyed for a real home of their own at Aberavon.
In December 1852 Father. Antoine Genzwiowski a Polish priest was appointed
as the first resident pastor of the Misson at Aberavon. He first continued
to hold services in the Skittle Alley, but soon Capel Moriah at the top
of the Causeway became vacant and was then rented by the Catholic`s.
When in 1853 Father. William Marshall took over the parish, he for the first time started keeping records of all baptisms and marriages, these previously being kept at St.David`s Swansea.
It was around about this time that a man by the name of William Jones
and his brother Thomas Jones, builders living in Green Park, Aberavon,
came to the aid of the catholic`s of Aberavon.
By 1856 the freehold of the land enclosed within the old church boundary was purchased for £240.from the above two brothers.
For many years the struggle went on, until on Sunday, June 22nd.1862
the Church was finally formally opened.
Over the the next seventy years the Church continued to serve the people
of Aberavon, but in time it became increasingly overcrowded, with many
remaining on the outside at the services.
More to follow on this page when we shall talk more about the catholic people, both of their prominent leaders and the ordinary town folk.
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