On March 26th 1981 during the service to the Parish of the Vincentian community, the Roman Catholic School of St Oliver Plunkett was opened. The expansion of house building in the area of Birchwood meant the School at that time was much needed. Initially, the priests had worked out of a rented house on Kestral Lane in Oakwood. Now, with a School it would give a much broader base to their service.
The original plan for the Parish of St Oliver Plunkett included the purchase of land sufficient to build, not just a School, but a Church, presbytery and Social Club in the Oakwood area of Birchwood. Sadly, sufficient funds were never available to go beyond the building of a school. Mass was celebrated in the School hall and later on, in 2001 a chapel was built off the hall and used as the sanctuary area of the church, as well as for Mass during the week when smaller numbers could be accommodated within the area.
Sadly, the turn of the Century saw acceleration in the fall of numbers using the School in Birchwood. When these fell to less than a hundred the School encountered difficulty in sustaining the budget. The Diocesan Schools’ Dept. then took the decision to close the school in the summer of 2003. With it, went the chapel and mass centre. In order to ensure that Mass was celebrated in the Birchwood area, agreement was reached with the Church of the Transfiguration (who celebrate their services in their School: Birchwood CofE) to celebrate Mass there every Saturday evening at 5.30pm.
Though the weekly Mass in Birchwood has now stopped (from July 2010 it is now celebrated at St Bridget’s at 5.30pm on Saturday evening), house masses are regularly celebrated in the area for any family and friends wishing to host mass.
The Ecumenical ministers of the area from the Church of the Transfiguration, Locking Stumps URC and the Evangelicals based at the High School along with ourselves meet regularly for fellowship and to plan the Ecumenical activities throughout the year. These cover: Remembrance Day, Carols in the Mall, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Women’s World Day of Prayer and the Good Friday Walk of Witness through Birchwood Mall.