Holy Rood and the Wider Community

Holy Rood became a parish in the Diocese of Westminster within the Rural Deanery of St. Albans. Several of the priests of Holy Rood served as Rural Deans, including Fr. Keating, Mgr. Canon Jackman and Canon Galvin. As time went by many new Catholic churches were built in the diocese and it became necessary to reorganise the deaneries, and Watford itself became a deanery which included the churches at Abbots Langley, Bushey, Carpenders Park, Chorleywood, Croxley Green, Garston, Mill End, Rickmansworth and Watford North. Again Holy Rood provided a Dean in the person of Fr Berry.

In 1976 the Diocese of Westminster was divided into five Episcopal Pastoral Areas, each under the control of an Auxiliary Bishop. Hertfordshire became one of the Pastoral Areas and the bishop appointed was the late Rt. Rev. B. Christopher Butler. By the invitation of the Anglican Dean of St Albans, Bishop Butler’s initiatory Mass was held in the Abbey, a wonderful occasion when the great old church was full of worshippers and the coaches bringing them from all parts of the county caused a traffic problem in the town. The first words spoken at this ceremony were warm and friendly: “From the Anglican Dean of the Abbey Church, in the past a Benedictine house, to the Benedictine Bishop Butler, welcome home”.

In the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, at which he played so notable a part, Bishop Butler actively promoted ecumenical action. Catholic churches became members of local Councils of Churches and took part in joint pastoral and social activities. Holy Rood parish has been very active in this field and has provided two chairmen of the Watford Council of Churches, one of them being Mr. R. Bennett, the first ever Catholic chairman, and the other Fr. Bernard Scholes. Catholic, Anglican and Free Church clergy meet regularly in ‘fraternal’ sessions to discuss common problems.