St Athanasius' Carluke
In Catholic times the original parish church of Carluke was called the "Forest Kirk" from its being situated in the forest of Mauldslie, one of the royal demesnes. According to an old rhymer it was in this building that Sir William Wallace was, in 1297, chosen Guardian of Scotland. It appears that Robert Bruce gave the Carluke church lands to the monks of Kelso, who out of the revenues maintained a vicar to look after the spiritual interests of the people. After 1560 when the Catholic Faith was banned, the property passed to other hands.
Little was known of the Catholic name in this district during the intervening centuries till 1845, when the formation of the Caledonian Railway brought in a number of Irish workmen. At first Carluke was attended from Hamilton, Mass being said occasionally in a small hall; but in 1849 the charge of the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire was entrusted to the Rev. John Black, who fixed his residence at Lanark. The new mission contained at that time 800 Catholics, scattered along the Clyde valley from Biggar to Newmains. One of the stations was Carluke, where Father Black said Mass once a month in a hall at the back of the present Commercial Hotel. In 1855 he purchased the existing mission ground, with a thatched cottage on it which he converted into a temporary chapel; and Mass was now said "every Sunday, except the fourth, at 10 and 12 alternately." The present church was blessed and opened by Bishop Murdoch on the 13th September 1857. The sittings were for 600, from which it would appear that the Catholics of Carluke had increased considerably. The old chapel continued to be used as a school. In 1859 the Rev. John (afterwards Canon) M'Cay took up residence as priest in charge. He put up a presbytery of brick behind the church. It is recorded in the Catholic Directory for 1860 that Father M'Cay attended Shotts, Crofthead and Lesmahagow, and that stations for Confessions were held at Cambusnethan, Newmains, Bankend, Auchengray and Biggar; Mass being said in these places on week-days. He also organized a Christian Doctrine Society for the working of Sunday schools at various centres In 1860 Father M'Cay was succeeded by the Rev. Mortimer Cassin, who held the charge for the long period of thirty-three years. He continued the same laborious visitation and supervision of the various centres. About this time the mission seems to have been reduced in extent, being confined to the right bank of the Clyde; but it still embraced the civil parishes of Biggar, Carluke, Carnwath, Dolphinton, Dunsyne, Shotts, Walston, Weston and Roberton. In 1864 the present presbytery was built, and the old one, with additions made in 1879, has served the purposes of a school to the present day. To meet the wants of the growing Catholic population at Shotts Father Cassin built there a chapel-school, which was opened on the 20th September, 1868. In 1871 Shotts and Newmains were cut off, the former as a separate mission and the latter to be attached to Wishaw Father Cassin died in 1893, and the Rev. Charles Webb took charge.
During his time the district of Morningside was cut off to be attached to the mission of Newmains. In 1900 he was succeeded by the Rev. Peter M'Connachie, who in turn was replaced by the Rev.Alexander M'Cormick Father McCormick died on the 26th December of the same year. The present incumbent is the Rev. Charles F. Fleming, who computes the number of families in his mission as follows:-37 in Carluke , 8 in Castlehill, 16 in Law, 12 in Braidwood and 6 in Biggar, which would make the Catholic population about 450.
The history of the formation of Carluke Mission furnishes one of the many striking instances of the pioneer work done fifty years ago. There was not then the means available, nor was it the time for great material buildings, but the priests of those days laid the sure foundation of all future progress. Their system of stations and Sunday school centres in the various isolated villages and hamlets involved great fatigue, but it kept the light of the Faith alive where but for their efforts it might have gone out for ever.