It was built on land gifted by Mr and Mrs Maille of Marringdean Road in memory of their daughter and there is a plaque commemorating this in the porch
Between 1925 and 1962, the Catholic community had worshipped in the former ‘Gospel Hall’ in Lower Station Road. This has now been demolished and the only remains are the shallow arches on a single brick wall and the name of the adjacent house: “Priest’s House”
In 1933, Billingshurst was granted a resident priest – Father Walter Stone and he boosted the congregation.
Father Stone was followed by Father Gerard ‘Joe’ Candy, who is buried outside, to the right of the front of the church. He was parish priest from 1956 to 1984.
The church was consecrated in 1982 when all financial liabilities regarding its building were finally settled.
When the church was first built, the altar was against the back wall so the priest celebrated the Mass with his back to the congregation, as was the custom.
There were altar rails all along the front of the altar steps and we would line up to kneel all along while the priest administered communion, on the tongue, to each person.
Not very long after, the altar rails were taken out and the altar table was placed in its present position in the centre so that the priest could face the congregation. This caused quite a bit of concern (“I remember being quite discombobulated by it all!” Madeleine Doherty, parishioner)
Father Gordon Simmons followed on from Father Candy’s long reign and he, in turn, was followed by Father John Pearson who was instrumental in setting up the Help Uganda Trust which supports St Michael’s Children’s Home in Kampala, Uganda. Father John died in 2018, having moved onto St Erconwald’s in Walton-on-Thames. We still support the Trust in Billingshurst. During this time, Terri Griffin (parishioner who was the ceramics and art teacher at the Weald School, recently moved away) designed the St Gabriel’s stained glass window, installed to the left of Our Lady’s altar.
Deacon Roger Stone came next and helped the Parish to become more pro-active in ‘doing things for ourselves’, as, initially, he had a job as well as tending to the flock in Billingshurst. During this time, the two angels were carved into the glass either side of the entrance doors to the church and the stained glass window of the Sacred Heart (designed by Liz Kennedy, also moved away) was installed to the right of the Sacred Heart altar. Deacon Roger left to work in Southampton with the Apostleship of the Sea.
Deacon Roger was replaced by Father Carl Davies, who is now at Littlehampton, and the current priest is Father Alan Sharpe.