St Leonard's, East Kilbride
a parish in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Motherwell
     
OUR PARISH HISTORY
 
In the autumn of 1966, it was announced that His Lordship the Bishop of Motherwell had decided that a parish dedicated to Saint Leonard should be established in East Kilbride. Bishop Thomson's decision opened up a new chapter which brought together the history of the new town and the history of the Catholic Church in the west of Scotland.
 
At the end of the 12th century, William the Lion, King of Scotland, gifted the land of Kilbride (Kilbrid) to his Norman-French protégé, Roger de Valoins, and made him Lord of the Manor of East Kilbride. Records for the 15th century show that a hospice (with chapel dedicated to Saint Leonard) paid "a tithe of hay" to the Church of Kilbride.
 
It is recorded in the reign of King David 1 that the Church of Kilbride had been acknowledged as a possession of the Cathedral of Glasgow. Until 1589 there was a parish of Torrance (Torrens) with a chapel, hospital and burial ground called Saint Leonard's situated at Newhouse (See Note 1 opposite) but in that year the Glasgow Presbytery annexed the parish of Torrance to the parish of Kilbride. On the Newhousemill Road, just before the bend approaching the bridge over the Calder Water, there is to the right, set in the grassland beside Newhousemill Cottages, a stone commemorating this history. The plaque on the stone bears the inscription:  
Note 1
 
In 1792, a cotton spinning mill and cottages for employees were established at Newhouse, and the name was changed to Newhousemill.
 
St Leonard's Kirkyard,
A Pre-Reformation Church,
Dedicated to Saint Leonard,
Once Stood on This Site.

 
The modern parish of Saint Leonard opened on Sunday 16 October 1966, when Father Kieran O'Farrell celebrated Mass in Long Calderwood Primary School. An important milestone in the development of the parish was reached in August 1967 when the children of the parish were brought together in their own school, albeit in a temporary home in Allers Primary School. Within a year, the opening of Saint Leonard's Primary School provided not only a permanent home for the education and formation of children in the parish but also a real focal point for parish activities: Mass, meetings and other parochial events were held there. The growth in the number of families in the parish was so rapid that by 1970 the newly established Saint Hilary's Primary School had to be used as an annexe to accommodate the January intake of pupils from St Leonard's Primary.  
Father O'Farrell
 
Parishioners and prams leaving Mass in St Leonard's Primary School
 
A start was made on the building of the church on 13 April, 1969. The church was finally available for worship on 17 September, 1970 and a few weeks later, on 31 October, the young First Communicants received the Holy Eucharist in their own church. Eight days later, an eagerly awaited event was celebrated when the Right Reverend Francis Thompson, Bishop of Motherwell, presided over the solemn opening of the Church of Saint Leonard. This formal occasion was the culmination of four years of prayer, hard work, commitment and great expectations. The Living Christ now had a permanent home in our midst.
 
Bishop Thomson inspects the model of the proposed church. With him is the model's builder, Mr E. Oswald, Principal Teacher of Technical Education in the then St Bride's High School. Pupils who helped Mr Oswald point out the detail to Father O'Farrell, Parish Priest.
 
The souvenir brochure for the solemn opening of our church rightly pays tribute to the "zeal and unflagging enthusiasm and leadership with which Father O'Farrell quickly brought the parish together." It recognises too the unstinting commitment and cooperation of the parishioners on whose efforts the parish was built. Father O'Farrell himself expressed in the brochure his gratitude to Father Bradley, Father Gallagher and Father Boyle who had "laboured zealously" in the parish in its first four years. Bishop Thomson acknowledged in the brochure the "great sacrifice which the establishment of a new parish and the building of a church and presbytery demand from both priests and lay folk." In words that we may profitably reflect on today, he suggested that the sacrifice made by priests and parishioners would "ensure that the Mass will be offered in surroundings worthy of the central act of worship of our Faith."
 
A section of the congregation at the solemn opening of the church
 
St Leonard's Choir at the same event. We want to sing!