Parish logo: Mary with child Photos from the 2015 pilgrimage to Lourdes Photos from Field of Dreams 2015 Photos from Assisi and Orvieto 2015

“Catholic Basildon” – some key dates

There have been three separate histories weaved within “Catholic Basildon” that bring us to 2012. In 1915, in Laindon, Mass was celebrated in a family home by the Parish Priest of Billericay. This continued through until 1926 when the Church of St Therese of Lisieux was established in a small chapel; St Therese had been canonized (declared a Saint) in 1925, so the church in Laindon was one of the very first dedicated to her. That little church remained for many decades, until it was beyond repair, and funds were raised for a new church, which was built and opened in Florence Way, Laindon, in 1992.

In the meantime the new town of Basildon had been built; initially there was a Mass centre in Vange, dedicated to the Sacred Heart, which opened in the 1950s. The original town centre plans showed the town centre located where Pitsea now stands, and so St Basil the Great was built there, and consecrated in 1956. The Irish Sisters of Charity opened a school – St Teresa’s – in 1957, which is still thriving. In its earliest years St Teresa’s served Catholics all the way up to Laindon.

In the 1960s, however, it became clear that the town plans were going to look rather different, and with greater focus on the town centre, the beginnings of the third main church in Basildon took shape. Holy Trinity had very humble beginnings; in late 1958, and served by Priests from St Basil’s, the first Masses in the town centre were in the builders’ canteen! From 12 noon on Saturday parishioners scraped out the mud, put up paper curtains, and made as presentable a space as possible. From 1960 – 1963 the parishioners used a new community hall, at Kingswood, for Mass (and, for a time, Kingswood Junior School hall). By 1963 the parish had its own hall, at Roundacre, and Mass was celebrated there. In September 1964 Blessed Anne Line School (now St Anne Line) was opened, with 267 children attending. On the first day there were not enough chairs for every child, and so they carried chairs over from the parish hall! In 1968 the Infant School opened as a separate school, and both schools continue to flourish.

In 1972 the Catholic Secondary School in Basildon opened – then named St Anselm’s, it was renamed de la Salle school in 1996. In 2012/13 much of the school was extensively renovated and rebuilt, in a £8 million project that means facilities are "state of the art." De la Salle College has Modern Language College status and it is an exceptional school.

Roundacre was affected by subsidence: additionally, once the road plans for Basildon became clear, it was obvious that it could not remain as a site for a church. So the Basildon Development Corporation granted two and a half acres, on Wickhay, and right opposite the school. This was ideal, and between 1966 and 1973 a hall was built – which remains as the parish hall. Mass was said there, and it is an excellent hall, but still the parish had no church, and so under the guidance of Fr Dick Ashton plans were made, finance committed, and from 1979 – 1980 the church was built.

Over the next thirty years Basildon continued to grow, and the Catholic population grew as well. In 2003 the churches were brought together as one Team Ministry serving the whole town, and in 2010 the single parish of Our Lady and All Saints was established, covering the whole area served by the three churches. St Basil’s was in need of significant refurbishment, with both asbestos and electrical issues, and that refurbishment was completed between January and April 2011. It is a beautiful, dignified and prayerful space. In May 2012 three Ursuline Sisters moved to be resident at St Basil’s.

It was ever clearer that Holy Trinity was too small for the growing numbers, and in 2010 a video link was established between the church and the hall. With up to a hundred parishioners “watching” Mass every week, the decision was taken to extend the church and move the parish office to be on the same site. Building work began in September 2011 and finished in May 2012: it is the results of this extension and refurbishment that you see today!