In 2015 we celebrated our 150th anniversary and as part of our Jubilee celebrations we held a whole host of events throughout the year with something for everyone to enjoy, including a family fun day, Victorian Day, photographic display and a Songs of Praise service. Leading on from this we also commissioned some young artists from Sunderland University to design and install a brand new stained glass window as a long lasting and beautiful memento in the church, this was completed in October 2016 and was made possible by the huge generosity of our parish community and the funds raised through events and direct donations. Since then the same artists have designed additional panes for either side of the altar, when the sunlight hits the glass and the coloured light shines across the Sanctuary it is an absolutely stunning sight.
In 2020 we commissioned the artists involved in the project to complete the final stage and design a new window to replace the existing fire doors at the side of the church incorporating an image of our patron St Aidan, this was installed in the summer of 2021. Both of the windows were designed and installed by Cate Watkinson & Rita Griskonyte and are a fitting tribute to the previous generations of parishioners who made enormous sacrifice to fund the building of two churches and five schools.
Once the window installations were complete there was some money left in the Jubilee Fund and it was decided that we would use this to refurbish some of the silverware which belongs to St Aidan’s Parish: a Chalice presented to Fr Savory by the people of Willington Quay in 1930; a Chalice presented by the people of Willington Quay to Fr Cogdan in 1925; a Chalice which has no engraving but was probably made within the same era and a Ciborium which is dated 1930.
Over the years the generosity of the people of Willington Quay has never ceased to be amazing, and to restore the silverware to its former glory would be a fitting tribute to the sacrifices made. While the silverware already has significant financial value – the pieces are priceless because of what they represent. This work was completed over the summer, the Ciborium is now displayed with the other original artefacts at the back of church and the Chalice was used in the celebration of Fr John’s final St Aidan’s Day Mass in the parish on August 31st 2021.
On 31st August 2021 we celebrated the Feast of St Aidan with our whole parish community and Fr John gave a blessing of the new window.
From the Artist Rita Griskonyte
The window design is inspired by the incredible legacy of the community of St Aidan’s, and St Aidan who brought Christianity to Lindsifarne from the Monastery of Iona at the request of King Oswald. The artist seeks to depict peace and leaves space for the viewer’s contemplation, drawing individuals in to the window by the nature of its design.
THE CROSS: is the central object in the design as it represents God, Resurrection and His Mercy which are central to Christianity.
SYMBOLS: the Cross contains shipping chains, rivets, ropes, and coal mining tools. These represent the history of the area and its industry, providing the context within which the people lived and worked.
COLOURS: the two opposing colours, blue and red, and their graduation represent two different communities coming together, the Cross represents the community’s past, present and future.
ST AIDAN: who was well known for his strict ascetic life can be found in the beautiful simplicity of the design, reminding the viewer of the Christian values for which he was renowned.
ALPHA & OMEGA: are important Christian symbols representing God present at the beginning and God present at the end. These symbols are central to the Easter Resurrection Narratives
A & S: have been used in the parish of St Aidan historically since its inception and were used in the stained glass window in the original church in Willington Quay, which can now be seen in the Roman Catholic Church on the Island of Lindisfarne. The use of the intertwined letters represents continuity for the community, with St Aidan as the patron representing an inspirational figure.
THE BANNER: was lovingly crafted by a group of parishioners to mark 150 years since the foundation of Our Lady & St Aidan’s Parish in Willington Quay.
DESIGN OF THE BANNER: reproduces the image of St Aidan from the stained glass window of St Aidan gifted to Our Lady & St Aidan’s Church by the CYMS on 3rd August 1940. On the closure of the Church this window alongside two others were gifted to the Roman Catholic Chapel on the Island of Lindisfarne.
The Banner was blessed by Bishop Seamus Cunningham on 28th February 2016
Another talented group of parishioners created a stunning Jubilee floral display at the church entrance.
At our Jubilee Family Fun Day in the summer of 2015 the children of the parish were asked to create tiles to commemorate the occasion. These were then glazed, fired and mounted and can now be seen displayed in our Parish Room.