How I Came to All Saints'
Having successfully established his vocation as a priest in Liverpool Fr Leary moved south in 1896
After gathering together, teaching, training and building up a congregation of faithful Catholics at S. Catherine's, Abercromby Square, Liverpool, it is easy to understand how Fr. Leary must· have felt it a great wrench to leave his work there and to respond to a call to come south. It was in the summer of 1896 that he was instituted to the incumbency of All Saints', Kensington Park (as it was then called). Without being in any way outstanding architecturally, All Saints' has a pleasing and impressive interior, while the tower, with its square base and octagonal superstructure, form a graceful and dignified feature, redeeming the rest of the exterior from mediocrity, and providing a well- known landmark in the Notting Hill area. When Fr. Leary entered upon his work, he found a congregation large in point of numbers, but eclectic and very much wedded to a type of Service in which Choral Mattins with sermon was the outstanding feature. True, this was followed by a Sung Eucharist, but the very. elaborate music and immense number of mid-day Communions gave evidence of great need for teaching on catholic lines. Here, then, was Just the man to undertake a difficult task, which needed great patience and unfailing tact. Fr. Leary was a born teacher, Impressive, eloquent and convincing as . he was in. the pulpit, it was in his instructions, given on Sunday evenings in Advent and Lent, and at other, times in public and private, that his greatest influence as Pastor and Master seemed to be exercised. The parish, which, at its formation in the early sixties, consisted of well-to-do and educated people, had, by ·the time of which I am writing, -followed the tendency that is still going on all over London. Many of the wealthier people go to houses in the suburbs, and their places become occupied by people of every kind and description, and mostly strangers to any form of religion. To these people, Fr. Leary was a magnet. They would come to him in church with every kind of difficulty and problem, intellectual, moral and national; and many is the man or woman who left him only to return again and again, finding the solution of their troubles in penitence and receiving new hope and joy through conversion and the Catholic. Life.
As one who was privileged to join him when he came to All Saints' and to work under him for six very happy years, I can only say that his example and influence among his staff was such that we shall never know in this life how much we owe to him. Regular, methodical, systematic and thorough in everything that he did, always ready with sound advice; generous in approval, gentle in correction'; in matters of discipline, strict with himself, but indulgent to everyone else; is it any wonder that he drew unstinted affection and whole-hearted service from all, whether clerical or lay, who served under him? May the good Lord reward him richly for all that he was, and did for us.
Father Leary was wont to say that one of the only two sleepless nights that, until recent years, he had experienced, followed the day when he received the offer of the living of S. Augustine's. A difficult decision had to be made. It ended by his leaving a church where he had done much hard work, experienced much happiness and made many friends, and coming to the strange, foreign land of Kilburn, where a new task of great responsibility must be undertaken.
The extract is taken from Philip Herbert Leary Priest, Vicar of S Augustine’s Kilburn Copies can be obtained from St. AUGUSTINE'S, KILBURN. A donation of £5.00 +pp would be appreciated ---- St. Augustine, Kilburn
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