We are extremely fortunate that Saint Philips Neri Church is located next door to our school.
There is a mass every Saturday at the City Hospital Chapel at 6.30pm and every Sunday at 10.00am.
The first mission in Smethwick was founded by members of the Oratory in Hagley Road, Edgbaston, a fact which accounts for the dedication of the church in Smethwick to St. Philip Neri, founder of the Congregation of the Oratory.
Edward Caswall, a member of the Oratory, was organizing the building of a school-chapel and a presbytery at his own expense from 1858, and the first resident priest, J S Flanagan, was also a member of the Oratory. He lived in a house in Brook Street, which was at first also used as a mass-centre.
By 1863 the school, in Watt Street, was being used for worship; part of the building (later the infants' school) was kept permanently as a chapel, and the rest was thrown open for services on Sundays. The presbytery, built on to the school, was completed in 1863. Caswall sold the school-chapel to the diocese of Birmingham for a nominal sum in 1876, but the Oratorians retained the ownership of the rest of the property until 1912.
The church of St. Philip Neri in what is now the Messenger Road section of High Park Road was built by C E Ryder, priest at Smethwick from 1882 to 1912 and grandson of Henry Ryder, bishop of Lichfield and Coventry; he paid for much of it himself.
The nave was opened in 1893.Over the next nine years Ryder added the west porch flanked by the baptistery and a chapel; he also improved the site and bought an organ. In 1904 he uilt the sacristies and the south transept containing the Lady Chapel and in 1908 completed the work by adding the choir and the north transept containing the Sacred Heart Chapel.
The church is a building of brick and terracotta designed in a mixed Romanesque and Gothic style by Alfred Pilkington of London. A marble high altar and sanctuary were installed as a memorial to Ryder in 1926; the altar was moved forward to the front of the sanctuary in 1969. The church was consecrated in 1936. A new presbytery was built south of the church c. 1960. The Roman Catholic population of St. Philip's parish was some 1,500 in 1936 and 2,250 in the late 1960s.
From: 'Smethwick: Roman Catholicism', A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 17
The school and parish have strong links. Regular weekday Masses are held in school which parishioners are invited to attend, whilst on feast days the school attends the church for Mass.
The school attend regular parish mass and the children are responsible for readings, bidding prayers, the offertory and the choir offer their vocal support, too.
Several boys and girls are altar servers on a regular basis.
St. Philip Neri Catholic Church
For more information see the St. Philip's Parish website (external link).