Catholicism was restored to Jersey with the influx of refugees fleeing to the island to escape the French Revolution. With the arrival of bishops, priests and laity from revolutionary France, Catholic chapels were set up in St Helier to meet their spiritual needs.
The first sizeable permanent church, however, was a converted protestant chapel in New Street, which was established in 1842, and dedicated to St Thomas in honour of Bishop Thomas Griffiths, who opened it for worship. The church was served by various French and Belgium diocesan priests until 1880, when the Bishop handed the mission over to the French province of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Within two years, an appeal was started for the building of a new church in Val Plaisant, which opened in 1885. The French speaking parishioners were so proud of this Church, the largest in the Channel Islands, that they called it "La Cathedrale". St Thomas is now a church of the Diocese of Portsmouth and is served by diocesan clergy.
Mathieu de Gruchy, a convert Jerseyman, did much to re-establish the Catholic faith in his native island. Later he was sent to France and was executed in Nantes by the revolutionary government and became honoured as a martyr. In the “French Chapel” in St Thomas there is a plaque in his memory. It sits alongside another plaque in memory of Francois Scornet, a young Frenchman who was executed by the Germans in Jersey in 1941.
From 1880 until 1999 the church was served faithfully by French Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. It was Father Donat Michaux O.M.I. who raised the money for and directed the building of the church. For this reason, he has always been regarded as its founder. The church was adapted for the new liturgy in 1984 and was beautifully restored in 2006/2007 under the direction of Monsignor Nicholas France, Catholic Dean in Jersey.
Today the church epitomises Catholicism in counting among its congregation people of many nations and diverse backgrounds. In particular, it is the spiritual home of the considerable number of Portuguese and Polish migrants who in recent years have come to the island to find work.
There is a presbytery and church office adjacent to the church, together with the church hall. On the other side of the church, another refurbished building houses Catholic Pastoral Services, The Welcome Centre and the office of the Society of St Vincent de Paul.
|Saturday||11.00 am | 6.00pm (First Mass of Sunday)|
|Sunday||9.30 am | 3.30pm (Mass in Portuguese) | 6.00 pm | 7.30pm (Mass in Polish)
Saturday 11.30am to 12 noon and 5.00pm to 5.45pm, or at any time by appointment.
The church can be found at 17 Val Plaisant, St Helier, JE2 4TA.
Office Manager: Miss Manuela Santos
Telephone 01534 720235
A selection of photos of St Thomas' Church. Please click on a thumbnail to view a larger format.
Stay in touch with all the latest news from the Catholic Church in Jersey