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Dean Van Hecke

Father Van Hecke was born at Bruges, in Belgium, on the 31st October, 1854. He studied Humanities at a local Episcopal college before studying Philosophy at Roulers. He came to a new Ecclesiastical college in Partickhill at the invitation of Archbishop Eyre and was ordained by Bishop Mc Lachlan of Galloway. He served first in St. John 's, Glasgow.and then in St. Paul 's, Shettleston.

In 1893 he came to Wishaw as Parish Priest and immediately put the church into a better state of repair and reseated the aisles. A kind and gentle man, he always had a word for young and old and lived for the people of Wishaw. He made alterations and renovations to the school buildings which had served their purpose well for 30 years. The Lady Altar was installed the year after his arrival. Simultaneously , he enlarged Newmains chapel school by adding a sanctuary and he also built a presbytery there. The new Mission was completed by 1896 and Fr. James Humble appointed in charge. St. Ignatius ' school was now too small and so he planned and completed new school buildings with accomodation for 500 children. With the growth of the population he realised also that more accomodation was required in the church and so undertook a programme of alterations and improvements, which are detailed elsewhere. The church accomodated 900 people after his efforts.In 1894, a new pipe organ was installed under the supervision of his brother, Professor Van Hecke of the Royal Chapel in Brussels.
Dean Van Hecke also served on the School board and the Parish Council, thus serving the general public of Wishaw as well  as his own congregation.. He actively helped his homeless countrymen during the First World War and was  decorated for his work in this area by the King of the Belgians. He continued his work in beautifying the church and continued until night fell - "when no man can work." He died suddenly on the morning of Tuesday 20th December 1927 well prepared . His diary found at his bedside recorded that on the night before his death, he made his Examination of Conscience and performed the various priestly exercises to which he had pledged himself.

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