UK History






Beatification of Don Orione
On 28th April 1980, the Holy Father Pope John Paul II approved the decree, which recognises the miraculous cure of the fourteen year old Giorgio Vincenza Passamonti. This miracle was attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Don Orione and had taken place at Lodi on 7th April 1944.
Pope John Paul II beatified Don Luigi Orione on 26th October 1980 describing him as “a genial expression of Christian charity”.

Home for elderly people at Shorne in Kent
In 1979 the Sons of Divine Providence started negotiations to take over the running of a home for elderly people, sited on an estate at Shorne, from the Corpus Christi Carmelite sisters who were moving to Leicester. Shorne lies between the towns of Gravesend and Rochester in Kent and is described as ‘the place that Dickens loved’. The estate comprised three historic buildings: St. Joseph’s home known locally as Pipes Place, St. Katharine’s Chapel and the Malthouse.
The history of Pipes Place is sketchy. From what is documented we know that a local Magistrate, Richard Parker lived in a house on the site in 1642. Early in the 18th century Jarvis Maplesden III, the grandson of a local tanner, purchased the house together with twenty acres of land which included St. Katharine’s Chapel. St. Katharine’s Chapel is believed to have been built by the monks of Bermondsey in the early 14th century. Its position suggests that it was used by pilgrims travelling by the River Thames to Canterbury. It was probably in use until the Reformation before being turned to secular use. Several generations of the Maplesden family lived in the house until Jarvis Maplesden V. He became very rich with dowries and legacies from three wives. He accumulated a large family around him and so he had Pipes Place rebuilt and in its present Georgian style. In 1743 Jarvis Maplesden V commissioned Charles Slone an Architect to plan the Estate and record it. After the death of the last Maplesden a complicated succession of owners was ended in 1870 when the estate was put up for auction in London. George Arnold a local entrepreneur and Mayor of Gravesend purchased the estate at the auction set about researching and restoring the ruined chapel. He returned the fully restored Chapel to the Catholic Church in the early 1900s. Adjacent to the Chapel is the Malthouse, which housed the Chaplain of the Chapel when the Corpus Christi nuns ran the estate.
When the Sons of Divine Providence arrived in Shorne, Pipes Place was in a poor condition and it was not long before the home had to be shut. So the Sons decided to convert the house into self-contained flats for elderly people. The Malthouse was renovated and converted into four self-contained flats for the elderly and the first tenant moved into her flat in 1981. The Sons also provided a ministry for the local community with Masses in St Katharine’s on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.

Pope John Paul II visits England
In 1982 Pope John Paul II visited England. The theme he selected for his visit was the celebration of the seven sacraments. He celebrated the sacrament of Holy Orders at an open air Mass at Heaton Park, Manchester, Roy Elikowski a Son of Divine Providence was among those ordained at this Mass.

St. Mary’s converted to Head Office
In 1984 St Mary’s at 13 Lower Teddington Road ceased to function as a nursing home and the property was converted into the head office of the English Delegation of the Sons of Divine Providence.

St. Edward’s Day Centre
In 1984 a small hall, named St Edward’s Hall was built on a plot of land behind the new head office at 13 Lower Teddington Road. In 1985, the Hall was turned into a day centre for elderly adults.

Southwell House
Also in 1984 Southwell House in Walsingham, Norfolk was acquired and converted into a home for six young men with learning disabilities.

Molesey Venture Centre
In May 1985 an appeal was launched to collect funds to set up a Horticultural Training Centre on the Molesey site. The purpose of the project was to create a Care Home for young men with learning disabilities along side a facility where they could be trained for work in horticulture. The training facility was designed to cater, not only for young men and women from the homes run by the ‘Sons’ but also for anyone from the local community. As such, the project received the support of the local Mayor. The project was sponsored by many well-known personalities including Malcolm Muggeridge and the project also received the blessing of Cardinal Hume. Once completed the complex comprised: the Molesey Venture Building, Sundial House which is a home for 7 men and Newstead House which provides sheltered housing for elderly people. The Molesey Venture building housed 17 residents with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour.

Frs. Carlo Mazzotta and Philip Kehoe ordained
Carlo Mazzotta was ordained in June 1985 by Pope John Paul II in Rome. Philip Kehoe was ordained in August 1985 in Widnes. He was the first English priest from Lancashire to complete his studies with the Sons of Divine Providence.

Fr Bidone Dies
Fr. Bidone died in Foggia, Italy on 15th April 1986 from a sudden heart attack while he was preparing to say Mass.

Fr. John Kilmartin ordained
John Kilmartin was ordained in June 1986 in St Raphael’s church, Kingston upon Thames.

Independent Housing Units
In 1986 properties in Lower Teddington Road were acquired and converted into independent housing flats.

St. Joseph’s Vocations Trade School in Zerka, Jordan
Also in 1986, a purpose built vocational trade school for the training of boys was opened in Zerka in Jordan. The English Congregation of the Sons of Divine Providence had been invited some five years earlier to take on the responsibility for providing the building and running the school thereafter. The school was inaugurated to provide boys with a technical education, providing for example, courses for training electricians and carpenters. The instructors were Jordanians. The Sons of Divine Providence were required to organise the school and to provide a pastoral Ministry for the boys and for the people who lived nearby. Fr. Joseph Tirello was the first priest in charge of the project. He was joined by, the newly ordained Fr. Philip Kehoe in 1986.