Revd Catherine Lomas is Pioneer Vicar of Irchester with Stanton Cross. A former solicitor, she moved to Northamptonshire in 2010 and was ordained in the summer. In 2016, Revd Catherine was appointed Pioneer Vicar of Irchester with Stanton Cross, with the specific task of being a Christian presence and serving the new community as it develops.
Here she tells us a little more about her work as a Vicar in Wellingborough, what she loves most about the town and what she is most looking forward to in her role as Stanton Cross prepares to welcome its first residents:
Tell us what a typical day as a Vicar in Wellingborough looks like…
I think the best answer is that there is no such thing as a typical day for a vicar! People often think that Sunday is the busiest day but in fact, it’s often the easiest, because I know where I’ll be, at what time, and what’s expected from me. Working a six-day week, the rest of my time can involve visiting people in their homes, preparing with wedding couples for their life together, meetings about preserving our Grade I listed building, taking school assemblies, studying and prayers, chatting with people coming into church for a toddler group, or taking a funeral service. There are meetings with colleagues, ongoing training and admin as with any job, and a constant stream of emails and ‘phone calls. And then, whatever I might have planned, if the phone rings to let me know someone is in hospital, or seriously ill, all the plans get dropped and I’ll go where I’m most needed. It’s certainly a varied role.
What is most important to you about your job?
Being a parish priest is a real privilege. I get to come alongside people at some of the most significant moments in their life, sharing times of great joy and celebration as well as their grief. Day by day, I’m aware of the opportunities I am given to offer hope and comfort to those around me and to encourage them in their own life journey, whether they have a deep personal faith or struggle to see how the spiritual life has any relevance to them.
If you were moving into one of our new homes and could only bring three items, what would they be?
So, I’m assuming that your homes are kitted out to the highest standards and I would have pre-ordered a built-in coffee machine! More seriously, when I was training for ordination, I was given an icon of St Antony of Egypt, which has sat above my desk ever since. I have a vision for founding a Christian community at Stanton Cross named after St Antony (lots to say on this but just note for now how “Stanton” is within his name) so his icon would have to come first. I’m a keen artist so I’d definitely want my art materials. And finally? I love all kinds of music so possibly a piano too.
What makes Wellingborough a great place to live and work?
Wellingborough offers a great balance: all the beauty of the Northamptonshire villages and countryside nearby, with the amenities you’d expect from living in a town. Great out of town shopping is just ten minutes’ away at the new Rushden Lakes development, with Milton Keynes and Cambridge an easy drive. Wellingborough’s central position makes it a great place to live and work for its connectivity, both by road and rail, without the bustle and overcrowded feel of the home counties.
Where in Wellingborough do you like to visit in your spare time?
I try to keep fit so I visit one of the local gyms several times each week. Wellingborough is also a great place for enjoying the outdoors. As well as having loads of countryside walks on your doorstep, the local country parks are great places to hang out, especially with a family. Irchester Country Park is the nearest but I’m also looking forward to the new park and riverside walk at Stanton Cross.
What does being Vicar of Stanton Cross mean to you and what are you most looking forward to?
I’ve been Vicar of Stanton Cross for two years already and while there haven’t been any residents, I have been praying that God will bring people to live there and bless them. I’ve represented their interests in the recent consultation over rail services through Wellingborough and been thinking and planning for the next phase of my involvement in the development. I’ve also been praying regularly for the large number of workers who have been on site these past years, keeping up with the challenges and the milestones of a development on this scale, and more recently, taking the opportunity to get on site to see the progress being made.
As we get nearer to the first completions, I’m looking forward finally to meeting the people who move in and, I hope, getting to know them. People buy a house wanting to make it their home. In the same way, I see my role as facilitating the transformation that makes a housing development into a community. My hope is that by being a priestly presence, I can serve the whole community – people of any faith or none – as well as building up a worshipping Christian community that will bless its neighbours.
Which elements of Stanton Cross are you most excited to see brought to life?
That’s a tough question as there are so many elements to it. I think the first time that I get to drive from Wellingborough up over the railway and river bridges and into the neighbourhood centre will feel really special. Meeting the first residents to move in will of course be significant. Then, I trust that my vision of establishing the Community of St Antony will come into being, as we live by example the good news of our faith in Jesus Christ.