Our Parish Priest

I was born in Coventry, West Midlands on 1st January 1955 . We lived as a family, in Cumbria and Scotland, before settling in Chatham, Kent in 1963.

I attended St Michael’s RC Primary School and St John Fisher RC Secondary, both in Chatham. I spent 20 years pursuing a career in administration and office management before commencing studies for the Catholic priesthood at St John’s seminary, Wonersh in 1991.

I spent a year as a deacon in St Vincent de Paul parish, Clapham Common, before being ordained priest at St Michael’s Chatham on 14th June 1997. I was appointed assistant priest at Holy Innocents, Orpington until October 1999, following which I served as a full-time chaplain at King’s College hospital, London.

My first appointment as a parish priest was to Sacred Heart, Sittingbourne, in 2004 where I remained for 7 years.

In 2011, with the Archbishop’s permission, I took a break from full-time parish ministry to care for my mother, who was suffering from dementia.

After a couple of years as Parochial Administrator of St Simon Stock parish, Walderslade, I took up my present appointment, in Northfleet, in October 2016.

I have a brother, Kevin, and a sister, Maureen.

-Father Michael Ryan

Our Parish Deacon

Like Father Michael, I was raised in Coventry but later moved to Solihull in the West Midlands. I went to school in Solihull, firstly at St Thomas More Primary School and then at St Peter’s Secondary School. I also gained two degrees later on at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh, and at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, in Theology, and Catholic Social Teaching.

I spent most of my working life as a Senior Manager on the Railways, and mainly in construction working on major projects such as: The Channel Tunnel, High Speed 1, The Light Rail System in Dublin and lastly, on The Elizabeth Line. After early retirement, and spending 5 years studying Theology, I was ordained to the Diaconate on November 5th 2021.

I also serve as a Chaplain to the People of The Sea with Stella Maris (formerly The Apostleship of The Sea) and I am also their Health and Safety Advisor, covering the whole of the United Kingdom. I have a passion for ecumenism and visit many Christian sites and places of pilgrimage each year.

I am married to my loving wife Gemma and we have one daughter, Phoebe Maria.

-Rev. John Fogarty

Our Church

The mission at Northfleet was founded from Greenhithe. The Greenhithe mission had been founded in 1863 by Fr Maurice of Cossato, a Capuchin friar from Piedmont, and the first Mass said on Christmas Day 1863 at the Carmelite convent. The church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was built in the 1870s by the architect J. Lewis Andre of Horsham, Sussex, with the builder, Mr Sharp. It was served by Capuchin friars until 1880, when the mission was handed over  to the diocese. The first mission priest at Greenhithe was Fr Thomas Moynihan. In the 1880s the missions of Greenhithe and Northfleet were united. In 1904 they were separated again and Greenhithe was served first from Walworth, then from 1907 from Dartford. In 1970 the mission at Greenhithe was closed and the church demolished in 1973.

The first church at Northfleet was dedicated to Our Immaculate Mother and St Joseph; it was in Rose Street (now Station Road), and was built in 1867. It was used as a school during the week and as a church on Sundays. (The disused building still survives today.) The first resident priest, Fr Lancelot Scott, arrived in 1898.

The current church, Our Lady of the Assumption, was designed by (Sir) Giles Gilbert Scott in 1913. The new site was the former horse-drawn tram depot, which had closed in 1901. The former tram manager’s house became the presbytery. Alfred Tolhurst, a Catholic convert, lawyer, local politician and owner of the Red Lion cement works, donated a piece of adjoining land. A public appeal had been planned to raise funds for the building work; however, the children of Alfred (died 1913) and Sarah (died 1911) Tolhurst made a donation of about £8,000 as a memorial to their parents which covered the costs. Building work started in 1914 and was completed in 1916. The builder was J. B. Lingham.

The church was consecrated on 5 December 1929. Scott added several furnishings in the following decades, including the Lady Chapel altar and reredos (1923-4) and the main reredos (1953-4). There used to be a small hall between church and presbytery; however, this was demolished following the discovery of asbestos and was not replaced. Between 2000 and 2003, Thomas Ford & Partners carried out structural repairs. The church was reopened on 5 December 2003 by Archbishop Michael Bowen, the 74th anniversary of its consecration.