The parish of St. Augustine’s, Coatbridge, in Lanarkshire, was established by Archbishop Charles Eyre in 1892 as part of his concern to provide for the spiritual and social needs of the ever-increasing Catholic population in the West of Scotland. The arrival of a new workforce mainly from Ireland, together with their families, mostly Catholic and many quite destitute, had inspired the establishment of new parishes, often in the care of priests from Ireland or northern Europe and even from England.

The newly-founded parish of St Augustine’s was entrusted to the care of father John Hughes who was born in Johnstown, Kilkenny in 1851. After his studies in St Patrick’s College,Thurles and in the Irish College in Paris John was ordained in 1877 and served in St Margaret’s Airdrie and St Mary’s Cleland before coming to St.Augustine’s. The Hughes family were to provide priests who would serve with distinction, not only the church in their native Ireland but much further afield. In 1992, on the occasion of the celebration of the centenary of the foundation of the parish, there were four members of the Hughes family still active in the ministry. Monsignor Nicholas Hughes,Vicar General of Clifton Diocese, his twin brothers, recently retired to their native Johnstown after service in the United States, and their youngest brother, Jamie, a priest in New South Wales.

The present fine Pugin Church and school are monuments to Father Hughes’ ambitions for the faith and for the education of his parishioners, most of whom were no strangers to poverty and heavy industry. The first assistant, Thomas Hopwell, was an Englishman from Leicester who went on to play a significant part in the life of the catholic community of Kilbirnie in Ayrshire