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OUR PARISH PRIEST - FATHER JOHN MILLAR
Fr John Millar was born in North Shields, Tyne and Wear in 1987 but grew up from the age of eight in Kendal.
After leaving school Fr Millar spent an initial year of formation for the priesthood in Cleator Moor before heading
south to Allen Hall Seminary in London. He studied Theology at Heythrop College, University of London.
He returned to the Diocese of Lancaster in 2011 to spend a pastoral year in St Joseph’s, Lancaster. He was
ordained a deacon on 11th February 2012 and a priest on 22nd September 2012. After ordination Fr Millar was a
curate at Our Lady & St Joseph’s, Carlisle and Our Lady & St Wilfrid’s, Warwick Bridge between 2012 and 2017. He then moved to St Joseph’s, Preston in January 2017 becoming administrator and then parish priest there. Fr Millar spent 8 months working with the Institute of Christ the King in 2021-22 before a brief time looking after Appleby - in - Westmorland. He arrived as parish priest of Freckleton and administrator of St Anne’s Westby in September 2022.
HISTORY OF CHURCH OF ST. ANNE, WESTBY
In the 1740s as the religious climate was beginning to ease, Squire Thomas Clifton commenced building a chapel immediately to the south of Westby Hall. This was formally opened on May 1st 1742. Like nearly all the chapels in the Fylde, it was of two storeys, the upper floor comprising the chapel and priests accommodation, the ground floor being used for farm purposes. This was probably known as St Anne's Chapel. On September 21st 1784, Bishop Matthew Gibson made a visitation to the chapel, he confirmed 78 members of the congregation, the number of communicants being 360.
In 1831, the then Lord of the Manor, Thomas Clifton, despite the long family tradition of catholicity became a Protestant. In 1845 he closed the chapel at Westby Hall to the Catholics, stating that the faithful could travel either to The Willows, Kirkham or to St. Peters, Lytham for their religious services. This unsatisfactory situation prevailed for many years until the Rev. Dean Hines of the Willows, mindful of the inconvenience of part of his flock, and of the increasing overcrowding of his own church, began to promote the idea of building a new church for the Westby and Plumpton Catholics.
On October 14th 1858, two acres of land was purchased at Westby Mills from John Talbot Clifton and James Fair (the Clifton land agent) by the Rt Rev Alex Goss, Bishop of Liverpool, Thomas Cookson and James Fisher, with the intention of building a church, prestbytery and a school. The price was £160. (Note: The Fylde was part of the Diocese of Liverpool unitl 1924).
The foundation stone of the church, dedicated to St Anne, was laid by the Bishop
of Liverpool, the Rt Rev Goss on May 31st 1859. The Bishop formally opened the
church on August 26th 1860 and on December 4th 1860 he consecrated the altar.
The church was consecrated by Bishop Whiteside on November 8th 1900. The
reason for the long delay could be connected with the clearing of the parish debt
arising from the building of not only the church and presbytery, but also the
school and head-teacher's house.
The cemetary was approved for burials on April 18th 1864, the first burial
recorded is that of Catherine Whiteside on May 24th 1868.