About St Catherine’s
The Parish of St Catherine of Siena serves the people of Chessington, Hook and Malden Rushett under the guidance and leadership of Fr Peter Sebastian, who became parish priest of St Catherine’s in September 2022.
The Presbytery, Church and Parish Hall are all located on the same site at 98/100 Leatherhead Road, Chessington, Surrey KT9 2HY.
A Short History of the Parish
Originally Chessington was part of the parish of Tolworth. In early 1938, Mass was celebrated each Sunday at a house on the corner of Hook Road named “Avoca” belonging to Dr MacDonald.
Fr Redding, the Parish Priest of Tolworth, acquired the Bungalow, which is now the Presbytery, together with adequate land for a Hall to be built. The First Mass in the Hall was said on 10thOctober 1938. Each Saturday evening, the Hall was hired for Dances run by the RAF Depot in Mansfield Road. This meant that the chairs had to be arranged for the congregation and a table set up on the stage was used as an altar for the celebration of Holy Mass.
In June 1944, the Parish had its first Parish Priest Fr Joseph O’Kelly. During the Second World War there was a POW camp on the site where the Community Centre now stands. There were both Italian and German prisoners of war and it was from this time that the Parish was known as St Catherine of Siena, probably because many of the Italians were from the Siena region of Italy. Fr O’Kelly became Parish Priest of Putney in 1952.
Fr Augustine Queally was appointed Parish Priest and he retired in 1982 after thirty years of faithful service to the parish. It was during his time that the Parish grew with post-war developments especially with the building of large council estates in the area. With his encouragement and stewardship a new Church was built which was opened and blessed by Archbishop Cyril Cowderoy in 1975. The church is dedicated to St Catherine of Siena.
Fr Brian Maxwell was appointed Parish Priest and was followed by Fr Francis Moran in 1999. Both priests did much to develop the life of the Parish.
In 2004 Fr Barry Angus was appointed but sadly he had to take early retirement due to ill health in 2008.
During Fr Peter Jenner’s time as Parish Priest the Hall had a new toilet with disabled facilities and there was fund raising for the Sanctuary Project. The church was consecrated by Archbishop Peter Smith in November 2014.
Fr Stephen Haylett was appointed Parish Priest in September 2015. Fr Stephen Haylett, who is an accomplished musician, installed the very fine organ which is in the church today. He had to deal with the COVID pandemic and all the new arrangements that had to be made for worship and to manage a fall in income during the three government required lockdowns. He was much loved for his pastoral care of the sick, the dying and those who wanted to learn about Jesus and the Catholic Church.
Fr Peter Sebastian was appointed Parish Priest on 18 September 2022.
Parish Priests 1944 – present
1944 Fr Joseph O’Kelly
1952 Fr Augustine Queally
1982 Ft Brian Maxwell
1999 Fr Francis Moran
2004 Fr Barry Angus
2007 Fr Peter Jenner
2015 Fr Stephen Haylett
2022 Fr Peter Sebastian