A SPECIAL celebration was held to mark the 40th anniversary of St Augustine’s Catholic Church in Runcorn.

The Bishop of Shrewsbury the Rt Rev Mark Davies concelebrated mass with six priests and hundreds of parishioners on Saturday.

The mayor and mayoress of Halton Cllrs Alan and Joan Lowe were among the special guests.

Canon John Marmion, monsignor Christopher Lightbound, canon Brendan Hoban, Fr Devan Arul and Fr Ramesh Amaldoss joined parish priest Fr Ravi Bosco at the mass on the feast of the transfiguration of the lord.

The Castlefields church was named in memory of the Augustinan monks who lived at the neighbouring Norton Priory for many centures.

It was the first parish in the new town to be served by the Salvatorian Order.

The first priest Fr Gerald Caulfield lived in a bungalow on Richard Close and said mass in a chapel at his home during the week at in the former tenants’ centre on Sundays.

Parishioners held coffee mornings and bring and buy sales to raise money for a church building fund.

The new church was completed in 1977 when more than 20 priests concelebrated at the opening mass.

Extensive refurbishments have been carried out to mark its ruby anniversary.

Parishioners who helped to raise funds in the early days including Vera Rockcliffe, Jean Tyrell and Fred Hawkins were among many people attending the celebration mass.

Current parish priest Fr Ravi Bosco said: “Many people from 1977 to 2017 have helped to bring us to this day and we gratefully remember them all in our prayers.

“We have received congratulatory messages from priests of the diocese and those who have worked in Runcorn, especially Fr George Malaki.”

Parishioners shared memories at a buffet reception afterwards in St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School.

Old pictures and memorabilia were on display in a nostalgic exhibition.