Project Canterbury

Father Pollock And His Brother:
Mission Priests Of St. Alban’s Birmingham

Transcribed by Robert Stevens
AD 2001


"Death and Time bring on the prime
Of GOD’S own chosen weather."

THE work of S. Alban’s Mission, under its two saintly Founders, assisted by many faithful and self-sacrificing helpers, both clergy and lay, went on with steady growth for thirty years. The blessing of GOD was upon it, and it was given to the Mission Priests to enter in some part into the fruit of their labours.

To quote Father Tom once more—

"Faith ventured on in works by faith begun,
The means were ready as each work was done
Each step of progress opened to the view,
And gave the spirit for some effort new.
While all the time the great machine was moving,
And, more than this, enlarging and improving.
Men wonder how S. Alban’s kept alive,
And, spite of all, could even grow and thrive;
We do not dare to ask the why or how,
In thankfulness we marvel, and we bow."

To re-quote Father Pollock’s noble conclusion of Vaughton’s Hole:—

"All things, by the mercy of GOD, and spite of our many errors, have worked for GOD and made us prosper.

That these two devoted Priest-Brothers had human frailties, and may have made mistakes, is of course true; though one of their people and most valued friends, wholly true-hearted and loyal, yet a keen, shrewd business man, fully alive to any error or failing, one whom none would accuse of hero-worship or "romancing," who had seen the Brothers Pollock in every circumstance and under every aspect, writes, May 1, 1911: "If all that constitutes human worth counts, they stood the severe test of personal contact and intimate relationship through long years. And through it all we remember nothing but what is good and noble: . . . greater knowledge only meant greater love and devotion."

And who could think of failings and mistakes who listened to Father Tom’s words from S. Alban’s pulpit on September 8, 1895!—

"Next Friday is Holy Cross Day, and we enter upon the thirty-first year of our work here. People congratulate us upon what we have done here; but we ask, dearly beloved, your sympathy and your prayers for forgiveness, and that we may do better during the little time that remains to us—it cannot be very long. We mean, as we have lived, to die among you. We shall not die anywhere else.

"When I think of the generations of children that have passed under our influence in our schools, that there is hardly a house we pass in which we have not ministered at a dying bed, I say it in all honesty and in deep humility, my own feeling is one of shame, and I trust you will not fail to give us your earnest prayers."

The last years of the two devoted servants of GOD were overclouded and disturbed by their ever-increasing delicacy of health, and by anxieties and difficulties concerning the erection of the new Church of S. Patrick, a project upon which Father Pollock, in particular, had set his heart. An advertisement of a famous soap was then much in evidence, and "He won’t be happy till he gets it!" was Father Tom’s characteristic comment on his brother’s pertinacity.

There was real and urgent need for the new church. Father Tom alluded to this in his Christmas "Prologue," 1894, already quoted, and in their joint appeal for S. Patrick’s Church, November 1894, are these words:—

‘Let no one say ‘The time is not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built.’ The need is urgent. We must not admit a thought of delay. Our thousands of poor people cannot be left longer without the home that so many of them desire. The children and young people who crowd our schools and classes demand our protection and care. Zealous and faithful lay-workers must not be discouraged by coldness or hesitation. And our own consciences will be easier if we obey the call of Him Who ‘loveth a cheerful giver.’"

But there is little doubt that into Father Pollock’s strong desire for the new church, besides his ever dominant motives, the glory of GOD and the good of his people, there entered a loving wishfulness that his brother—S. Patrick's had always been regarded as "Father Tom’s Church"—should have a new building as spacious and noble as S. Alban’s, Conybere Street, which had ever been known as "Father Pollock's Church."

When, on November 18, 1896, the new Church of S. Patrick was opened, one of the Mission Priests of S. Alban's had passed to his Eternal Rest, and the other was too ill to be present at the ceremony. It was remarked that by a strange accident, which acquired a sinister significance, the bell, when rung for the opening service, tolled twice and stayed.

Father Pollock had been much out of health since February 1895. He was not able to join the annual excursion to Kingsbury in July, but was on the platform at Camp Hill Station to see his people off.

On Sunday, July 12, he preached at S. Alban’s a beautiful little sermon on "The glory that shall be revealed" (Rev. viii. 18), of which the following is the substance:—

"S. Paul knew what he was saying when he wrote 'I reckon,' ‘calculate.’ We take his words as of one well able to judge. We know in ourselves that they are true.

"We see first the glory in our LORD, Who, because He is GOD, must be glorious, whatever form He takes. Yet His words are old, nearly 2000 years, and He sometimes seems, though He is not, to be far away.

"(2) We see this glory revealed in the Apostles and Saints, in those of old, and in those nearer our own day, who followed their footsteps.

"(3) We see this glory in little children, who, compared to us, are innocent and pure. We read it in the eyes of that great mystery, a little child.

"CHRIST says, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’

This is for us; but for us is no such word as He says to the little children: 'Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven,'

"Yet we can see this glory even in ourselves in times when we feel GOD'S nearness, a real communion with Him, a sense of forgiveness, and a real desire and longing to be with Him and to be like Him. All these are foretastes of the glory to which GOD will one day bring us, and compared with which all affliction is light."

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