Canon Joseph Aloysius Wareing 1890 – 1978, Son of Brownedge and Priest of Liverpool Archdiocese

Joseph Aloysius Wareing was born on 16 January 1890 at St Mary’s View, Brownedge Lane in the shadow of St Mary’s, Brownedge Church.

He was the son of Roger Wareing, a teacher at one of the Brownedge Schools and his wife, Ellen, nee Whitehead, a native of Elswick, Fylde.

At the time of the 1891 census, Roger and Ellen also had two daughters; Mary Agnes, aged 8; and Teresa, aged 6; in addition to 1 year old Joseph Aloysius.

By the time of the 1901 census, the family were still living on Brownedge Lane and Roger and Ellen had had two more sons; John Vincent, aged 8; and Paul, aged 9 months. Joseph Aloysius was now an 11 year old scholar. Mary Agnes, now 18, and Teresa, now 16, are not recorded as part of the household but were likely to be living elsewhere, possibly in connection with their employment. There is, of course, the possibility that one or both of them had died young. Roger is no longer described as a teacher but as “living on own means” so he may have been in receipt of a small pension.

By 1911, Joseph Aloysius, was now 21 and can be found in the census of that year living in Everton, Liverpool along with a number of clergy and students where he is described as being a student. This was St Edward’s College, Everton, the site of the junior seminary which later, in 1920, was moved to St Joseph’s, Upholland which, until then, had been the senior seminary. St Edward’s College had been established in 1842 in Domingo House, a large mansion house named after Santo Domingo in the Caribbean, where George Campbell, a privateer and later Mayor of Liverpool, had made his fortune.

Resident at St Edward’s on census night 1911 were Bishop Thomas Whiteside; Fr Evan Banks, the headmaster; five other Priests who were masters; together with a visiting Priest; 94 students, including Joseph Aloysius, and 12 servants of whom 10 were female and two male. Amongst the other students was Joseph Francis Taylor from Walton-le-dale, together with young men from Preston, Chorley, Leyland, Brindle and further afield. Thomas Whiteside (1857 – 1921), a native of Lancaster, was the fourth Bishop of Liverpool from 1894 until 1911 and then became the first Archbishop of Liverpool from October 1911 until his death in January 1921.

One has to wonder why Joseph Aloysius was drawn to the diocesan priesthood rather than following what would, in many respects, have been a natural course towards Ampleforth and the monastic life as a Benedictine.

There are no details as yet of when and where Joseph Aloysius was ordained, other than it was sometime in 1917, but he must have quickly made his mark, including as a student, as he was appointed private secretary to Archbishop Whiteside and was confirmed in the same position under Whiteside’s successor, Archbishop Frederick Keating (1859 – 1928).

During his time as Private Secretary to Archbishop Keating, Joseph Aloysius accompanied Keating to the 28th International Eucharistic Congress which was held in Chicago from 20 – 24 June 1926. This was the first such congress to be held in the United States and a crowd, estimated at 500,000, attended Mass at Soldier Field, an American football stadium which had opened two years earlier and which is the home of the Chicago Bears team. An estimated 1 million people travelled to the closing Mass at St Mary of the Lake Seminary which was, and still is, the principal seminary and school of theology for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Amongst those who have served on the staff is Bishop Robert Barron, an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who, as Fr Robert Barron, was a professor of systematic theology at the seminary from 1992 until 2015 and was President-Rector from 2012 until his episcopal ordination in 2015.

The UK and Ireland Outward Passenger Lists 1890 – 1960 record that Archbishop Keating, accompanied by Joseph Aloysius, left Liverpool on 10 June 1926 onboard the White Star Line’s ocean liner, the SS Doric, heading for Montreal, Canada some 746 miles north east of Chicago. The sea voyage from Liverpool to Montreal would normally have taken some six or seven days depending on weather conditions which would have left the Archbishop and his Private Secretary with around three days to travel the 746 miles to Chicago.

Returning to the UK at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Congress by a slightly different route, the two clergymen left New York, some 712 miles east of Chicago, onboard the Red Star Line’s ocean liner, the SS Belgenland. The ship, en route to Antwerp, arrived in Plymouth on 4 July 1926 where the two men disembarked.

Joseph Aloysius’s appointment as Private Secretary ended sometime in 1927 and it is not currently known where he spent the next seven years. He was likely to have served in a parish, possibly more than one, within the Archdiocese. In 1934, he re-appears when he was appointed Parish Priest at St Sebastian’s, Lockerby Road, Fairfield, Liverpool, (now part of the Parish of St Oswald).

On 18 September 1941, Joseph Aloysius and his parishioners had a lucky escape. A History of St Sebastian’s Parish and Church by Mary Borg and published in 1988 records:

On September 18, 1941, German bombers dropped a stick of six bombs over Fairfield, doubtless aiming for the nearby Edge Hill Railway Goods Yard. Just seven minutes after the closing of the Quarant Ore (forty hours) with Solemn Benediction, a bomb, the first of the six, fell through the roof of St Sebastian’s church, exploding at the Sanctuary gates.

It ripped up the floor, standing it on end, smashed to atoms the marble altar rails containing the memorial tablets to men who died in the 1914-18 War. The solid marble pulpit vanished; the altar was badly damaged, but not beyond repair. The tabernacle was intact, the crucifix moved only a sixteenth of an inch; there was no damage to the mosaic of the Last Supper over the high altar. The statues did not move. 

By a miracle, worshippers in the church for the ending of the Forty Hours, on hearing the air raid warning wail had hastened to the school shelter. Canon Wareing had intentionally shortened the service because of the circumstances. After seeing that all was well the Canon and Monsignor (then Father) McDonnell took refuge in the basement beneath the presbytery. They were hurriedly called out by a warning that there was an unexploded bomb in the garden in front of the presbytery. The Canon found shelter with Monsignor Tom Turner; Monsignor McDonnell with the Sisters of the Little Ones.

Until Holy Week 1941 Edge Lane Convent was used for Mass. Then it too was severely damaged by bombs. Until the church was repaired in August 1942 mass was said in the parish hall. It was 1949 before the church was fully restored. 

Joseph Aloysius remained at St Sebastian’s for 35 years, during which time he was appointed a Canon and member of the Chapter of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, before retiring in July 1969. It is said that he “was dedicated to the Liturgy and to protocol, and was a shrewd administrator. He ruled the parish firmly for 35 years, celebrating the Golden Jubilee of his ordination there”.

Plate 1 – Canon Wareing celebrates his Golden Jubilee in 1967 with Bishop Augustine Harris, Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool, and fellow clergy and friends (St Sebastian’s Parish Website)

Following his retirement, Joseph Aloysius moved to Preston and was living at 33 East View, Deepdale at the time of his death on 8 November 1978, aged 88. He was laid to rest in the churchyard of St Mary’s, Brownedge, a stone’s throw from where he was born, raised, had his early education and attended Mass.

Plate 2 – Canon Wareing’s headstone in the churchyard of St Mary’s, Brownedge, Bamber Bridge (Author’s collection)

David Gorman, April 2020

If anybody has any further information about Canon Wareing, or any photographs, please let us know. This article will be updated as and when further information comes to light.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter 

Copyright ©
Saint Mary's Catholic Church Brownedge