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St Francis Xavier's Carfin



Carfin was one of the centres for catechetical instruction which the late Canon McCay established at an early period in his then extensive mission of Wishaw.   In 1862, he opened there a chapel school, in which Mass was said every Sunday at 10. The building gave accommodation for 400 worshippers on Sunday;  and for 160 scholars during the week.   Carfin remained for twelve years a station.   But in 1875 the district containing Carfin and Cleland was cut off as a separate mission.   The first priest in charge, Rev Thomas Moran, appears to have resided for a short time at Carfin, but in 1876 he transferred his residence to Cleland.  

A beautiful Church in the early Gothic style, designed by Messrs Pugin, Westminster, was commenced at Carfin in June 1881.   In November 1881, the church was roofed and slated, and will be ready for opening about the end of Spring [1882].   It will accommodate 700, and will cost nearly £1700.   It will be dedicated to St Francis Xavier, a relic of whom has been presented by a Priest to the Rev T Moran for the Church.   Funds to complete the building, and to furnish the presbytery at Cleland, are greatly needed;  and the Priest-in-charge appeals confidently to the charity of the faithful.


The Scottish Catholic directory for 1883 recorded: A new church was opened last year in the Carfin branch of this Cleland mission.    It is gothic in design of the early decorated period, and contains nave, chancel, two side chapels, sacristy, and porch.   At the south end are three long single light windows with trefoil heads and quatrefoil panels below the sills.   The gable finishes with a belfry, having a bell weighing 4½cwt, surmounted by a stone cross.   The side windows of the nave are lancet in form, and the chancel has a circular window filled with tracery.   The nave is divided into eight bays, with an open timber roof.   Two bays at the south end are filled with an organ gallery, 22 feet in depth, with front of open ornamental wood-work.   The length of the church is 88ft, width 34, height from floor to apex 35, to top of cross 62ft.   The interior is handsomely furnished and decorated.   The High Altar and reredos, admirably executed by Mess P J O’Neil & Co, Dublin, are of Caen stone; the table, pillars, and other parts, of Sicilian, Galway, and Cork marbles.   The panels on each side of the tabernacle have quatrefoil carvings of the four Evangelists, and on the panel under the table of the Altar – 5ft 6in by 3ft 4in – is a group of figures representing the death of St Joseph.   The seats are of varnished pitch pine, and the windows are glazed with small quarries in tinted cathedral glass. The opening services took place on Sunday 2 July 1882, when the Church was crowded to its utmost capacity.   High Mass coram Archiepiscopo was celebrated by Rev F George OSF, Glasgow, and the sermon was preached by the Rev F Daly OP, Dublin, who also preached in the evening.   The offerings during the day amounted to about £100.


In 1883, Fr Moran was succeeded in the double charge of Cleland and Carfin by Rev John Hughes.   In 1891 the Rev Charles Cunningham was put in charge of Carfin, now separated from Cleland, and the presbytery was built.   He was succeeded in 1896 by the Rev Thomas Smith, who in the following year erected a new school giving accommodation for over 400 scholars.   Father Smith died on 20th June 1900, and was succeeded by Rev Charles Webb. The congregation numbers 2,200, and is over three fourths of the general population of the village.

Diocesan Centre, Coursington Road, Motherwell, ML1 1PP 

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