History of Holy Spirit Church
Though we are part of the Diocese of Shrewsbury, for over a hundred years Marple Catholics were ministered to by the priest of Marple Bridge in the Diocese of Nottingham. St Mary's Marple Bridge was built in 1858/9 by Lord Howard of Glossop. Catholics were then baptised, confirmed, married and buried across the diocesan border. Our children attended St Mary's School as they do today.
Marple grew in the 1950's and 1960's with new housing estates and Manchester overspill. As the mills closed Marple became a commuter town. In 1967 the Bishop of Shrewsbury established the Parish of the Holy Spirit and Father James Gaskell became its first Parish Priest. Daily Mass was said at his house at 50 The Turnpike and Sunday Mass was at the Old Folk's Hall in the Memorial Park. The dual purpose church in Leigh Avenue cost £47000 and was opened in 1972.
Father Gaskell died suddenly in 1975 and was succeeded by Father Robinson. The Stations of the Cross which were fashioned by a local artist from plasticised marble from the Holy Land are a memorial to Father Gaskell.
During Father Robinson's time an elected Parish Committee was formed (unusual for a catholic parish). A legacy from Albert McDermott who died in 1976 enabled a Parish Meeting Room to be built. A pipe organ built by George Sixsmith and Sons was installed in 1982.
Father Robinson was succeeded by Father Prendiville in 1984. Father Prendiville died in 1998 and the present altar was designed and built for us as a memorial to him. In 1997 a very successful Parish Day was held and a Parish Magazine was established and a Parish Prayer adopted.
After a period with Father Michael Smith in charge, Father Michael Dyson became Parish Priest in 1999. To celebrate the Millenium the Parish Embroidery Group (God's Bodkins) created the wall hangings based upon the Parish Prayer and show the Holy Spirit in the guise of Wind, Water and Fire. In 2002 Stuart Adlington, who had been active in the parish for many years, was ordained deacon. Father Dyson retired in 2005 and Fr Marianus Kullu took over as Parish Priest and in 2009 Deacon Stuart moved to Burton Lazars.
Fr Marianus was Parish Priest for 12 years until Fr Bill Fitzgerald took over in September 2017 when Fr Marianus returned to India. 2017 was the year for celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Holy Spirit Parish and to mark this special occasion various events were organised. These included a Flower Festival which raised £900 for Wellspring, a Parish Picnic in Lyme Park, a Parish Dinner at Stockport Golf Club and finally an Aniversary Mass celebrated by Bishop Mark, Fr Marianus and Fr Robinson.
In the 1970's a link was established with a parish in Zambia and is still going strong today. Money is sent regularly to Fr Cullen who runs the parish and although he is not in the best of health; most years he manages to visit Marple and updates us on what has happened since his last newsletter. In 1986 the Holy Spirit Walking Group was formed. This is still very much active and Spring and Autumn 'Weekends Away' are always popular. Some traditional annual events have changed over the years and current well-supported ones include a Photo Competition resulting in a calendar of winning photos, an Advent Market and a Parish Quiz Night.
Parishioners were active in setting up 'Marple Churches Together' in the late 60's and our parish played a major part in raising funds for the replacement of the Cross on Cobden Edge. The annual Wellspring Walk and the walk to the Cobden Edge Cross are always well supported.
The new altar, lectern and altar chairs were installed in 2002 as a memorial to Fr Prendiville. In 2009 the roof over the Altar was replaced and further refurbishments/improvements for the Church are planned. CCTV cameras were installed in 2017 to deter trespassers and vandals.
Fr Bill Fitzgerald arrived on 6th September 2017 to replace Fr Marianus who has returned to India. Fr Bill has also assumed full pastoral responsibility for St Bernadette's in Brinnington.
Fr Bill has found time to introduce the Diocesan 'Mission Together' project in both churches. Each church has been given a target to raise funds for the different aspects of the Mission which include engaging the youth, training new priests, looking after retired priests and of course the necessary church maintenance. The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has been re-established and members are now active in the parish community visiting those in need. Attendance at the Children's Liturgy is very encouraging and we now see up to 40 children at the 9.00am Sunday Mass. Preparations including registering for First Forgiveness and First Communion in 2020 are now taking place.
Refurbishment of the presbytery started on 4th June 2018 and is now complete and in September Fr Bill moved in. Work on the church toilets is also complete - we now have an accessible toilet. The roof lights have been replaced and the leaking roof repaired. Refurbishment of the church frontage including the doors and windows is planned for 2020.