Fifty Years of Hope – Half a Century of Fulfillment.

A Brief History of our Parish

At the beginning of the twentieth century Fr. John Burns celebrated Mass in the Wilmot Arms in Borrowash. Some little while later, having regard to the influx of Irish Catholic workers employed in the new British Celanese Factory, Mass was transferred to Spondon, with the Parish of Alvaston supplying the priest. This was the first time the Mass had been said in Spondon since the Reformation. There were moves towards acquiring a site on which to build a permanent church; for which British Celanese contributed £25.

In the late 1920’s Fr. Wilson, (who as Mgr. Wilson celebrated his 100th birthday around 1995,) taught the catechism in Glover’s shop on the corner of Station Road and Nottingham Road.

By the 1930s the Spondon Catholic Church Fund had been set up.  Mass was then said in the Crown Club, (since closed) before moving on to the Anglers Arms and then to the Cinema, (now a shop) in Sitwell Street.

The Catholic population of Spondon was growing and further inflated as a result of the war effort. Some Italian prisoners of war working on the Locko Park Estate were allowed to attend Mass and when the war ended some returned with their families to settle permanently in the area.

Mass was again moved, this time to the Scout Hut in Gladstone Road, Spondon, which had the advantage of being available for whist drives and other social activities.

Following the setting up of the St Albans Parish, our parish-to-be was administered by Fr John McLean.  It was felt that the new church should be situated adjacent to the main road, which policy resulted in the acquisition of the site on which our church was to be built.

Bishop Ellis opened St. Hugh’s in 1958 and appointed Fr. Joseph McCarthy as its first parish priest.

Fr. McCarthy soon moved on and was replaced by Fr. Paddy Reidy who provided guidance to the small band of parishioners who met regularly in the presbytery to organise the fund raising that was a very necessary part of parish life in those days.

The Mother and Baby home for unmarried mothers in Borrowash House was set up by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace and their work was always supported by parishioners until the sisters set up more modern accommodation in Nottingham.

Fr. Patrick McKay succeeded Fr. Reidy and continued the good work of building the Hall and setting up a Social Club. He also formed our first parish council. In his latter days he suffered from poor health and sadly, died in a car crash in 1973.

Church-pictureAfter a somewhat trying time of having a different priest, (or so it seemed,) saying Mass each week, Fr. William Walsh was appointed to the Parish. He was a good and efficient organiser and built our porch and extended the Hall. In 1974 he was moved to Leicester, sadly, he died shortly after.

Fr. Ted Carrick, a veteran of thirty years served in Sierra Leone was our next parish priest. This very charismatic priest was keen to develop relationships with the missions. His ‘Golden Box’ raised many thousands of pounds through Fêtes and other functions. He always had time for the children of the parish, recognising that they were its future.

He eventually retired to Kirkby in Ashfield for well earned rest and retirement.

Fr. John Mack was appointed to St. Hugh’s in 1982 on the understanding that following him we would be a non-residential parish. His was a late vocation, trained in Paris and London and then curate to two very forward thinking priests. Not long after his appointment and without wishing to be, he became embroiled in a theological issue that gained national media attention.

Fr. John Mack applied his previous training and skill as an accountant to managing the parish finances. He set about making us self sufficient in the management of our day to day affairs so that our property and buildings and finance would be remain viable after he had gone. Fr. Mack was a Newcastle man, a Geordie, with his own ideas as to how things should be done and ever imparting straightforward no nonsense advice. He was a lover of music and played the piano, though he would confess, not as well as he played golf, anecdotes from the game he would often use in his homilies. He regarded his parishioners as his family and was a great sick visitor and enjoyed greeting people. Always anxious that nobody should be late for Mass, he could be relied on to start at least 15 minutes after the time scheduled.

He instituted a number of committees to be involved in liturgical and lay affairs most of which are in existence today. Latterly he took a keen interest in Deanery matters and instituted a Parish Gathering Day to discuss issues of cooperation and development Though his appointment was intended to precede his retirement, he stayed on until his death twenty seven years later in 2009, leaving his Parish viable and fit for come what may.

Fr.Ka Fai Lee was appointed to be our Parish Priest by Bishop Malcolm McMahon from September 2009.

Parish History contributed by Terry McMenamin 2009

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