St Oscar Romero Parish
St Thomas of Canterbury, Waterloo

St Thomas of Canterbury, Waterloo

The history of St Thomas of Canterbury, Waterloo

The Priests of St Thomas of Canterbury, Waterloo

Rev Albert A Bennett, 1868-1902
Rev Edmund Walsh, 1902-1914
Rev Dr Thomas Kane, 1914-1944
Dean Echlan O’Laverty, 1944-1959
Mgr Cyril Taylor, 1959-1979
Mgr James Rigby, 1979-1992
Rev James White, 1992-2003
Rev John Cullen, 2003-2015
Rev Dominic Curran, 2015-2020



Funding started to raise £10,000 for new church.
Church opened by Rev A Bennett :- The fore runner of present church was a modest temporary mission chapel
Plans for a larger church were drawn up by the architect Edmund Kirkby
Other families provided additional funds, murals, benches, stained-glass windows etc… to fill the church
Original plans were for a larger church with bell tower but had to be amended later to a smaller church to reduce the cost


Richard Honan left a substantial legacy of £1,800 to the building fund. There is a memorial to him on the west wall of the church


A plaque on the right hand wall of the sanctuary is in memory of Thomas Smith, a parishioner who died aged 77 on 11th February 1874.
The centre window of the apse is also erected in his memory.


Foundation Stone of the present church was laid by Cardinal Manning


The font is thought to be the original font from Edmund Kirby’s design, dating back to 1877.
It is a solid block of Peterhead granite weighing about four tons

Cardinal Manning returned to open the church and preached at the High Mass celebrated by Bishop O’Rielly


The baldacchino and the reredos were built in 1879 as an embellishment to the high altar.

Edmund Kirby was the designer and Boulton’s of Cheltenham carried out the major works which are recorded as costing £1,150

A generous but anonymous parishioner was responsible for paying for the work, which was in thanksgiving for the return to health of his son George after a serious illness. This donation was on condition that a statue of St. George stands equally with that of St. Thomas of Canterbury

Bishop O’Reilly returned to consecrate the original altar.


The architect Edmund Kirby worked with Fr. Bennett and the appointed contractor for continuing works was James Leslie of Bootle.

The benches for the new church were supplied by Webster’s of Bootle.

Edward Kirby’s company still exists today and is based in India Buildings


The altar rails, extending either side of the sanctuary were of carved white marble, supported by columns of coloured stone such as jasper and others.

These were added to the church around 1880. They were removed and repositioned around the church upon re-ordering in 1982


The organ and loft were installed by Abbott of Leeds in 1881/82 at a cost of between £800 and £1,000.


The Stations of the Cross were installed in the church in 1881 and where traditionally held to be the work of N. H. J. Westlake.

They are painted in oils on slate.


There are four stained glass windows dedicated to St. Thomas.

Two of these were installed to celebrate the silver jubilee in 1888 of the priesthood of Fr. Bennett.


Sermon and Church dedication performed by Bernard O’Reilly the Bishop of Liverpool.


Fr. Bennett died on 27th July 1902, barely two months before the 25th anniversary of the Church’s opening

On 29th December 1902 Bishop Thomas Whiteside came to bless the altar and chapel and join in the planned 25th Anniversary celebrations. ( delayed to allow completion of the Sacred Heart Chapel )
The Church was redecorated for the occasion .

Electric lighting was installed and St. Thomas’s was the first church in the area to ‘modernise’ in this way.


Memorial to Fr. Bennett erected


Boulton’s had completed much of the church furnishing by 1914


There is another beautiful window, showing Our Lady Star of the Sea with St. John the Evangelist and St. Patrick and has the inscription
‘In Memory of John McEvoy who died September 22nd 1917. RIP’.


On the north wall of the church, is ‘The Sacred Heart Window’ and has the inscription

‘Lord Jesus Grant Rest for the soul of Edith Thomson died March 1st 1919


The four green mosaic panels that grace the reredos were erected to the memory of Fr. Edmund Walsh who died in 1914.
The exact date of their erection is uncertain but is thought to be around 1919-1920


The Church architect Edmund Kirby died in April 1920

Peter Paul Rubens painted the triptych ‘Descent from the Cross’ between 1611 and 1614 and was copied in 1867 by Jan Van Lit.
This copy currently hangs outside the confessional on the west wall of the church and was the gift of the Bush family in the 1920’s


Portland stone pulpit erected in 1947, which is now preserved in two separate pieces.


The new Deanery was created from the existing Deanery of St. James Bootle after the Second World War and Dean Echlan O’Laverty became its first Dean
Gold leaf work added to the Stations of the cross to enhance the halo’s

Gerard Murphy became an Altar Server


The planned giving campaign was started and parishioners committed to an affordable weekly contribution for 3 years initially


Gerard Murphy became a Senior Server
Fr. Cyril Taylor’s Silver Jubilee was in 1963


The church was re-decorated for its centenary in 1968.
The gold leaf work on the Stations of the Cross around the outer panels and halos on the figures was replaced with gold paint as it had deteriorated.
The organ in St Thomas’ church was refurbished in 1968 but otherwise is completely original


The first and only Ordination at the church was Fr. Edward Cain on 21st July 1979


Throughout the period of the re-ordering the church hall next door was adapted for use as a church for 17 weeks until all of the alterations had been completed.
Mgr. Rigby was involved at every stage of the re-ordering process in 1982.

The overall architectural responsibility for the project lay with Richard O’Mahony but the design of the present day altar is attributed to Mgr. Rigby himself.

The present altar is the work of A J Bryan and Sons of Seaforth.

A relic of St. Thomas of Canterbury was secured, with other relics from the High Altar and Sacred Heart Altar, beneath the table of the new altar.

At re-ordering the font replaced the former pulpit of Portland stone, parts of which were re-positioned in different areas of the church.

None of the original altar rails across the church were lost in the re-ordering, being preserved and put to good use elsewhere
Original statues of St Joseph and of Our Lady were repositioned to more central positions in the church

After the re-ordering had been completed, Archbishop Derek Worlock came to St. Thomas’s to consecrate the present altar

The presidential chair was commissioned from Ormsby’s of Scarisbrick and used by Pope John Paul II at Liverpool Airport on 30th May 1982.

Archbishop Worlock later donated the chair to the parish of St. Thomas of Canterbury to mark the re-ordering of the church


Fr. John Cullen agreed to care for both St. Edmunds and St Thomas of Canterbury churches

Improvement and rebuilding of the sacristy and vestry

Canterbury room refurbished and a new kitchen added as well as a new office and new toilets including a disabled one.
A new confessional was built


The stained glass window depicting the Transfiguration of Christ cleaned and restored to its present state

The heating system has been improved and overhauled

New improved lighting in and around the sanctuary and side chapels have considerably brightened up these areas.
Improved lighting has also been installed at the back of the church near the entrance , fixed to the canopy of the organ loft
New floors of laminated wood were laid in both side chapels and in front of the two shrines.

Thanks to a legacy from parishioner Betty O’Shaughnessy a new carpet was laid

The edges of the steps in the sanctuary were improved with the installation of new polished wood borders.

A large, polished oak crucifix was made which hangs on a column on the west side of the church, close to the sanctuary

New polished oak hymn board was placed on the column close to the sanctuary.


Parish merges with Our Lady Star of the Sea in Litherland
Audio system updated and improved

Improved lighting and security lights fitted outside the church
Fire Alarm system added

Repairs to the weathered stone work around the church doors

Some repairs to the roofing and windows