When the first Catholic chapel was built in Manchester after the Reformation in the 18th century it was dedicated to St Chad, the 7th century beloved bishop of this area. In choosing him as its patron the Catholic community in Manchester was keen to show that it was the same living family of faith that has existed here down through the centuries. Whatever the political and religious upheavals of the day, there has always been a group of Roman Catholics in Manchester stretching back to the time of the Roman garrison nearly 2,000 years ago. They had been brought together by St Chad and flourished in the Middle Ages with a great dvotion to our Lady St Mary. In the winter of persecution they remained steadfast but hidden, bloodied but not beaten, to come out into the open again and blossom in the Second Spring of our holy faith in the 19th century.
St Chad's personal popularity and influence has lived on, not only in the dedication of many ancient churches in the region, but also in the place names of Manchester that were associated with him.
"So much did Chad endear himself to those whom he converted, that even to this day we find traces of his missionary labours in the numerous place-names in the Manchester district that have been given in honour of the Mercian Bishop. The valley of the Irk, along which he must have toiled repeatedly, is particularly rich in these name memorials. Chadderton is simply Chad's town, Chadkirk is Chad's church, Cheetham is Chad's dwelling-place, Cheetwood is Chad's wood, Chat Moss is Chad's moss, Cheadle is Chad's hill, Cheadle Hulme is the meadow by Chad's hill, and so forth" (from John O'Dea, 1910, The Story of the Old Faith in Manchester).
His kindly presence and his faithfulness to Christ and His Church won many souls to God in his day. We pray that his personal influence will still be found today as the Catholics of Manchester work to build the Kingdom of God; to hand on what has been given to us from our Fathers and Mothers in the Faith.