History of the Church and the lady chapel
St Elphege’s Parish- a short history 1908 – 2020
In 1908, fewer than a hundred parishioners lived in Wallington and Stafford Road was surrounded by lavender fields. The building of the first church, now the Parish Centre, was funded by Miss Florence Ellis, a wealthy heiress who paid for many churches in South London. Why St Elphege? The martyred Archbishop of Canterbury had been Bishop of Winchester and St Mary’s church Beddington was in his diocese so he probably visited our area over a thousand years ago.
The parish grew and a school was opened in 1928 in Castlemead, a large house next to the church. Later, the school was moved to Ross Road but closed in 1954. The fifties was a time of change and growth. Fr Charles Ward arrived in 1950 and enlarged the church, encouraged the growth of parish organisations and social life. A flourishing scout group, youth club, UCM and SVP met in Castlemead which became the parish centre.
It was during Fr John Mulholland’s time that major building work was completed. A new school was built in 1969 in Mollison Drive; it now has a thriving three form entry with outstanding inspections. The present church and presbytery were built in the 70s and the old church was converted into a parish centre. Fr Mulholland encouraged parish life by establishing a pastoral council, family study groups, and welcome evenings for new parishioners. There were now about a thousand parishioners.
Fr Paul Hough came as a curate in the 60s and returned as parish priest in the 80s remaining until 2020. He welcomed visiting priests especially from Poland and Fr Stephen Danso from Ghana who remained for many years as an assistant priest. During these years, the parish became a remarkably diverse congregation with parishioners from all over the world. The school reflected this and we have heard different languages used in the bidding prayers in special Masses.
Over the last few years, four parishioners have been ordained as secular priests serving in the diocese, and a fifth member is soon to be ordained. Parishioners have taken part in ecumenical activities such as the yearly prayer week for Christian unity and the Good Friday walk. The Sutton Deanery has welcomed a Syrian family in response to Pope Francis call and our parish has been in the forefront. Fr Hough retired in January 2020 and we welcomed Fr Patrick Udotai.
Written by Jackie McLoughlin MBE
THE PARISH PRIEST
Rev. Fr. Patrick Dominic Udotai, born 30th March, 1966; ordained a priest of the Diocese of Uyo – Nigeria, on May 29th, 1993; been a parish priest in many parishes in his home diocese; served as a fidei donum priest in two dioceses in Nigeria – Ibadan and Ogoja; has Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Theology from Ss. Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Bodija – Ibadan; and a Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Ibadan – Nigeria; has Certificates in Conflict Transformation across Cultures from School of International Studies (CONTACT), Brattleboro – USA; in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) from Indiana University Health, Indianapolis – USA; and in Catholic Social Teaching from Catholic University of America, Washington DC.
Fr. Patrick also served as the Bishop’s Secretary, Diocesan Chancellor and a member of Catholic Think –Tank Committee on Conflict Resolution for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria.
Fr. Patrick is currently on pastoral mission in the Archdiocese of Southwark, where he has served as an assistant priest in St. Justus Parish, Paddock Wood (June 2015 – April 2016), Parochial Administrator of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish, Carshalton Beeches (April 2016 – January 2020); and currently the Parochial Administrator of St. Elphege’s Catholic Church, Wallington.
My prayer is: Almighty Father, I only wish to be known and called a priest. Therefore, make me nothing but a fragrance of Christ, Your Son, so that everyone who encounters me may perceive and be touched by the scent of Your Son’s love (cf. 2 Corinthians 2: 15).
History of parish clergy
Canon Henry Caffarata
Father Thomas Neville
Father John Torrance
Father John Franklin
Father Charles Ward
Father John Mulholland
Father Paul Hough
Father Patrick Udotai
1908 – 1913
1913 – 1928
1928 – 1939
1940 – 1950
1950 – 1964
1964 – 1986
1986 – 2020
tour of our parish
tour of our hall
The Federation of St Elphege’s Catholic Schools
Tel: 020 8669 6306
Regina Coeli Catholic Primary School
Tel: 020 8688 4582
other schools near us
St Mary’s Catholic Federation School
Tel: 020 8647 5711
St. Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls
Tel: 020 8642 2025
The John Fisher School
Tel: 020 8660 4555