OUR LADY QUEEN OF APOSTLES
Until 1912, the few Catholics of Bishops Waltham were served by mission priests. From about 1906 till 1912, Mass was said in the Mafeking Hero Inn and, at this time, a priest visited once a month to say Mass and hear confessions. It was a Godsend for local Catholics and the Eastleigh Missionary District, when the White Fathers arrived in 1912. The White Fathers, a Society of African Missionaries, moved into The Priory, a large house at the top of Victoria Road. They established a seminary there and made their chapel available for public masses. The number of Catholics increased and, in 1931, Bishop’s Waltham became a separate parish with the Priory chapel serving as the parish church. The Priory was closed in 1967 and, until 1977, Sunday Mass was said first in the Priory recreation building, which at one time had been a milking parlour on the home farm, and later in the village drill hall. The Priory and its extensive grounds were sold in 1967. But a small part of the property, adjacent to Martins Street, was left to the local Catholic community as a site for a parish church.
It was given on the proviso that the White Fathers Cemetery would be maintained in perpetuity. A church, dedicated to Our Lady Queen of Apostles was built on the land and opened for service in 1977. The church soon proved too small to contain the growing attendance at Sunday Mass and the present, larger church was commissioned. It was constructed in 1997 and consecrated at Pentecost in 1998. It is adjacent to the old church, which is now a pastoral centre that can be used for social events, meetings, or as an integral part of the new church to accommodate larger congregations. Old Seminarians still come each year to visit the Church on the Feast of Pentecost.
As mother of Jesus Christ, Mary has a central role in the life of the Catholic Church. Mary should be called Queen, not only because of her Divine Motherhood of Jesus, her only Son, but also because God the Father has willed her to have an exceptional role in the work of the eternal salvation of humanity. In those very early days of the Church, she played a central role in preparing the Apostles for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
“The Virgin Mary with the Apostles and Other Saints” (1423-4), Fra Angelico
Excerpt from: “The Divine Life of the Most Holy Virgin”, by Ven. Mary of Agreda, pgs. 220-221:
Holy Exercises in the Supper-Room before Pentecost:
“She [Mary] assembled them together twice a day in the Supper-room, and being commanded by St. John or St. Peter to speak, explained to them for one hour the mysteries of faith, as if she were conversing with them, rather than teaching them as their Mistress and Queen. She explained the mysteries of the Hypostatic Union and all those contained in the ineffable and divine Incarnation. After this she bade them entertain themselves for one hour longer on the counsels, promises and doctrines they had learned from their Divine Master; to consecrate another part of the day to the recital of the Pater Noster, with some psalms; and to employ the rest of the time in mental prayer. In the evening they took some slight nourishment of bread, fruits and fish; thus by prayer and fasting they prepared for the coming of the Holy Spirit. She incited them to mental prayer, teaching them its excellence and necessity, because the noblest occupation of the reasonable creature is to raise his mind above created things to meditate on the divine, and that nothing should be preferred to this holy exercise.
By these holy lessons, the Mother of Wisdom and the Mistress of Charity enlightened the minds and inflamed the hearts of the Apostles and disciples, filling them with fervor and disposing them to receive the precious gifts of the Paraclete…”
In their booklet, Devotion to Mary, Queen of Apostles, the Daughters of St. Paul express, beautifully, the meaning of this title: " Mary is Queen of Apostles because she was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus Christ and to give Him to the world; she was made the Apostles' Mother and our own by Our Savior on the cross; she was with the Apostles while awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit, obtaining for them the abundance of supernatural graces they received on Pentecost."