The first Catholic Church in Spalding was built 140 years ago 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 Edward Gilpin Bagshawe 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 Lincolnshire 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 (whom, incidentally, became the ninth Archbishop of Liverpool on the 1st May 2014) 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, 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 chiefly cared for by the Polish Mission in England and Wales, the present priests serving the Polish community are Fr. Stanislaw Kowalski SChr (Parish Priest) and Fr. Daniel Glocko SChr (Assistant) and they celebrate Mass in Polish on Saturday evening at 6.30pm and on Tuesday evenings at 7.00pm.