The Parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Wilfrid covers the south-eastern part of the Manhood Peninsula – the tip of land to the south of Chichester with Bracklesham Bay on the west and Pagham Harbour on the east – and serves the Town of Selsey, as well as the Village of Sidlesham, and the Hamlets of Norton and Church Norton.
The Parish is part of the Cathedral Deanery: eight Parishes that together take in most of the western side of the County of West Sussex.
West Sussex, together with East Sussex and Surrey, are served by the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. You can find more information about the Diocese and all its Parishes on its own website: www.dabnet.org.
Our Church is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Wilfrid. St. Wilfrid, in about 681, founded a Monastery in Selsey dedicated to Our Lady which now lies beneath the sea due to coastal erosion. This may have been in the minds of those who chose to dedicate the Church to Our Lady and it may have been the Carmelite Monastery near Hunston (now closed) that suggested the dedication of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
The choice of St. Wilfrid as co-patron of the Parish would have been obvious – for it was Wilfrid who first brought the Christian Faith to Selsey landing on the Peninsula and establishing a base from which to preach the Gospel to the South Saxons. He also taught the local population the skill of fishing in the sea: fishing has been a thriving local industry ever since.
The Parish provides its members and its visitors with all the normal liturgical, spiritual, pastoral and social activities common to all Parishes. It has a good working relationship with (larger) neighbouring Parishes so that when, because of the limitations of size, the Parish is unable to provide any particular service it can seek the help of its neighbour.
There is an Open Meeting of the whole Parish two or three times a year at which important decisions affecting the life and future of the Parish are taken. There is also a small Finance Committee that meets regularly through the year to advise the Parish Priest on financial matters and on matters to do with the maintenance of Parish property.
The Parish has a small Parish Hall which is well used by different organisations and societies in the Town, (which are able to hire it for regular meetings and for one-off events) as well as by our own community – for Parish meetings, discussion groups, social and fundraising events, and other Parish activities.
Children from the Parish are able to receive a Catholic education at St. Richard’s Catholic Primary School (5 to 11 years) in Chichester; it also has its own Nursery Unit (3 to 5 years):
St. Richard’s Catholic Primary School
Young people from the Parish can receive a Catholic Secondary Education at St. Philip Howard Catholic High School (11 to 18 years) in Barnham:
St. Philip Howard Catholic High School
Elm Grove South
Both schools are easily accessible by public transport. Buses run between Selsey and Chichester every 15 minutes with a bus stop very close to St. Richard’s School. The bus station in Chichester is adjacent to the rail station which has a regular service to Barnham Station, which is a few minutes walk from St. Philip Howard.