Whether you are an existing or former parishioner living elsewhere these days…or simply ‘visiting’ us, we are happy to greet you.
It is my privilege, on behalf of our parish family here in Spalding, Lincolnshire, to welcome you to our parish website. We are situated in the Fenlands. The area is well known for its agriculture, producing fine vegetables from the surrounding farms and fields; but the area is probably best known for its annual Tulip Parade – sadly, no more, the town held its last parade last year (2013), but the fields and our churches are still a blaze of colour, and a sight to behold.
The Parish of The Immaculate Conception and Saint Norbert Parish is situated in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nottingham; serving the counties of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland and Lincolnshire, it is the longest diocese in the UK. We belong to the ‘Fenland Deanery’, created in 2011, serving the parishes of Boston, Holbeach, Skegness, Sleaford, Spilsby and ourselves.
We are a vibrant multi-cultural community, dedicated to continuing the mission of Christ: ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…’ (Matthew, 28:19).
We believe that belonging to a faith community like ours can enhance our lives in numerous ways, not least deepening our faith and our relationship with our Lord and with like-minded people. It is impossible to label ourselves as “Christian” and not have affinity to any Christian church. Both Deacon Dennis and myself see our role to nurture the faith of our parish, to enable everyone to grow in their faith, their love of God, and our commitment to each other. We respect the faith of others, and welcome everyone – please accept this invitation to come along and see for yourself!
Every kind wish and blessing,
Fr. Jim Burke
A History of St Norberts
The first Catholic Church in Spalding was built in 1875. This followed the Catholic Emancipation Bill (1829), when the practice of Catholicism had been repressed here in England. Mr. Thomas Arthur Young (1805-1891), Lord of the Manor of Kingerby, near Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, and a devout Catholic, approached the Bishop of Nottingham (Bishop Robert Bagshaw) wishing to know where churches were most needed in Lincolnshire to serve the growing Catholic communities in the area; and, Mr. Young took it upon himself to encourage and provide the means for the revival of Catholic communities in South Lincolnshire including Spalding, Gainsborough, Crowle and Grimsby.
The site for the new church, on the corner of St. Thomas’s Street (as it was then called) and Henrietta Street was purchased in 1874, and at the invitation of Mr. Young the Norbertine Order at Tongerloo Abbey in Belgium came to Spalding and South Lincolnshre to serve what was then known as the ‘New Catholic Oratory of the Immaculate Conception and Saint Norbert’ which consisted of the church, school and priory.
It is interesting to note that there was still great resistance in the town to the opening of the new Catholic Church, and certain conditions were made – the beautiful church was almost hidden away and remained that way until the brave decision to build a new church. There is a beautiful story that when the decision to proceed with the new build, the photograph of Mr. Young, thought to be the only photograph of him, fell to the ground!
The decision to build the new church was not taken lightly by the Diocese of Nottingham, the priests or the people. It has to be said that there was opposition to the new plans, but there were so many contributing factors that it was necessary to proceed with the new church complex.
The church, Community Hall and presbytery were blessed by Bishop Malcolm McMahon OP, the ninth Bishop of Nottingham, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the 8th December 2004.
Sadly, the Norbertine Fathers left the parish in 2008 and Bishop Malcolm appointed our present Parish Priest, Fr. James Burke, to the parishes of Spalding and Holbeach. More changes were inevitable – Fr. Jim is the first Diocesan priest to serve our community. We like to think that the fine legacy left by the Norbertine Fathers is still very much at the core of our worship and our fellowship. Our parish school, St. Norbert’s, in Tollgate, is rightly enjoys a fine reputation in the local and wider community. Our congregation these days comprises of people from many countries. Our Polish community is cared for by the Polish Mission in England and Wales, the present chaplain to the Polish community is Fr. Piotr Redlinski, and he celebrates Mass in Polish on Saturday evening at 6.30pm and on Thursdays at 7.00pm.
There is a warm welcome for everyone here in Saint Norbert’s – but, don’t just take our word for it – if you can, come and experience it for yourself!
A Personal Message from Fr. Jim
It gives me great pleasure to add my own personal welcome to our new website. Sincere thanks to Martin Horspole for his work in creating this site for our use – I hope that you will find the information here useful, and if you have any comments or suggestions relating to the site, please do get in touch.
Many of you will be familiar with the consultation process initiated by our bishop entitled ‘You Are Living Stones’. The purpose for this consultation is to meet the needs of the Catholic community spread throughout the Diocese of Nottingham in the years ahead. Declining numbers of priests available means that the Bishop has to start making provision now for the years ahead. Bishop Malcolm wishes that, so far as this is possible, solutions should be found at local grassroots level; people (clerical and lay) and parishes working together. In this parish, we take this very seriously and we not only invite, but we rely upon the good will of our parishioners to become actively involved in the life and mission of this parish – We need you! If you have an area of expertise or if you think you could give some of your time to help us in any way, I would love to hear from you!
I hope you enjoy your visit to our website and wish you, and all you hold dear, every blessing.
Fr. Jim Burke