Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

About Us

About Us

The parish of St. Thomas of Canterbury was established in 1958 to serve the Heaton district of Bolton. It was formerly part of St. Edmund's town centre parish.

Our Primary School pre-dates the parish. It was at first the school of St. Edmund's parish, and was founded twenty eight years earlier.

The present community includes members who have been here from the beginning of the parish and an increasing number of new members drawn from many parts of the world.

We recently celebrated the Golden Jubilee of our parish. In preparation for that event we gathered individual's memories of past events and photographs of people and places. From the stories of  these individuals there emerged a colourful story of our parish so far. The full content of the story will soon be posted on this site complete with pictures.

as for the present here are some indication of what's going on at SToC


Church Cleaning

Maintaining the church in its constantly beautiful state, fit for the worship of God, involves a good number of women and men who are grouped into small teams, organised by Anne Greenhalgh. Each team covers a variety of tasks - carpet cleaning, dusting, polishing, etc. - to ensure that all aspects of the church cleaning are regularly covered.



     acres of carpet to be cleaned ...



     ... and plenty of brass handles to be polished ...



             ... not to mention all the candle holders to bring to a shine ...

 cleaning 5.jpg

and it's happy work, whatever the task 

and of course the sacred vessels also need to be kept in brilliant condition



The teams follow a rota of service, each called upon about once every five weeks. This enables a wide involvement, and keeps to the motto: many hands make light work.

However, time moves on and so, sometimes, do these caring people. There is always space, therefore, for new recruits - young and old, men and women, the physically fit and those less fit. There are tasks to suit every condition. All we ask is a readiness to give around one hour every four or five weeks to care for a specific aspect of the cleaning.

In addition to the general cleaning of the church, attention has to be given to the altar linens. At present these are looked after by one or two individuals who faithfully take them home, wash and iron, and return them within the week. Without taking away from those who have carried out this work for a long time, we do need to be on the lookout for new recruits in this area. There is always something that could be taken home to be washed and ironed, and returned ready for use.

In the last few years we have completed major maintenance work on the church building. Nonetheless, from time to time there are other minor maintenance jobs that demand attention - a door hinge to be repaired, a light to be changed, a leak to be stopped, etc. We are fortunate in having one or two handy men who quietly get on with such matters, but it would be good to have additional capable people who can be called upon for these minor but important tasks.

Kathy and Frank Hayes organise the teams and rotas for the church cleaning, and they will be delighted to include you and allocate to you an appropriate task. Likewise to volunteer for helping with the altar linens please contact Kathy. 


 Floral Decoration

"The use of fresh flowers is encouraged as a way of engaging in the beauty and dignity of celebration. Discerning us of flowers can indicate the relative importance of particular occasions, and signify the keeping of particular seasons." ('Celebrating the Mass' CBCEW)

Carol Corr is in charge of the floral decoration of the church, and she adheres closely to the spirit of the instruction of the bishops quoted above.

Her tasteful arrangements highlight the great Feasts and generally, week be week, enrich the atmosphere of celebration. 

Christmas 2005 entrance.jpg

Church Entrance Christmas

Christmas 2005.jpg



Church Entrance Easter

 paschal candle.jpg

Paschal Candle

 Easter altar.jpg

 Easter Altar

 Here, as in every department of church activity, there wiil always be a welcome for others who wish to help, especially in preparation for the two great feasts of Easter and Christmas. Please contact either Judith or Joan directly.


The Piety Stall

A valued element of the church is the Piety Stall which is situated in what was formerly the the Baptistry.

piety gate.jpg

 It is well stocked with cards for all occasions, from Birth and Baptism, to Confirmation and First Communion, Marriage and Anniversaries, Remembering You, Get Well, In Sympathy etc.

piety cards.jpg

 Also in stock are missals, prayer books, rosaries, statues, pictures and a variety of religious objects to meet most tastes.

piety objects.jpg

 In addition to the regular general stock there is always the demand for extra items for Christmas, Easter, and for the stages of the Parish Sacramental Programme leading to the sacraments of Confirmation and First Communion.

piety pics.jpg

The Piety Stall is looked after by Jackie Sweeney who maintains the high quality of the stock and regularly refreshes it with new lines of products. Jackie also produces the rota of volunteers who tend the stall after each of the weekend Masses.

As with every church activity, there is always a need for more volunteers. If you feel able to to offer 15-20 minutes after your usual Sunday Mass, your assistance would be warmly welcomed.  


Children's Liturgy

The very first words spoken directly to children in the rite of baptism come immediately after the declaration of the parents and godparents that they will do their best to ansure the faith formation of their child. The priest addresses to the child the following words: "... the Christian community welcomes you with great joy." That welcome is not just a matter of words spoken in a ceremony; it is an experession of the community's undertaking to activelywelcome and support this child through life. Our special Liturgies of the Word for Chidren, held in the Becket Suite, are an expression of this active and welcoming support.

children liturgy.jpg


At the 9.00 o'clock Mass on most Sundays there is a simple celebration for young children, usually accompanied by parents, and led by members of a small team of catechists. This regular coming together of children and parents not only allows them to hear and celebrate the Word, but also promotes a sense of belonging and fellowship among the families concerned. Maybe that is why the numbers attending have steadily grown through the last year.


children lit.jpg

child liturgy.JPGDuring the 11.00 o'clock Mass larger numbers of children, representing a wider age range, also assemble in the Becket Suite for their Liturgy of the Word. For this liturgy a rota of leaders and assistants is prepared by Noreen Sherlock. Always on the lookout for more volunteers to assist in leading and supporting these celebrations with children, Noreen would welcome your enquiries about the nature of the tasks. If you are uncertain about whether you could contribute, but are willing to explore, you could come down to the Becket Suite, observe, join in, and then talk it through. Why not?


Reaching Out


 The Parish CAFOD Group is long established and works with great success in raising funds in support of the poor in Third World countries, in keeping the rest of us alert to the needs of the poorest in the world, and in providing a variety of opportunities for parishioners to meet and mix socially and enjoyably. Social events, concerts, luncheons, sponsored walks, all have their place in the round of opportunities provided each year.


To find out more about the parish Cafod Group, its meetings and activites, please contact Judith Lavin




The SVP was formed in 1833 by a group of university students in Paris, led by Frederic Ozanam. It was their aim to help the poor and deprived of the city in any way that they could. Now, over 170 years later, the SVP is at work in 132 countries and has over 600,000 members. Our present day aim remains much the same as it was in Frederic’s time, that is, to meet need in the best way that we can whenever we come across it. As you know, ‘poverty’ does not only mean lack of money. It can also mean illness, loneliness, isolation, bereavement, being housebound and feeling marginalised.

Most of our work in this parish involves making visits to individuals and families in their own homes, in hospital, in residential care and elsewhere. In the last twelve months, our members made 365 visits and we met 11 new families including 2 refugee families. We were able send 2 families on holiday last year and we have helped financially in other ways. In addition, we bought and distributed 63 Christmas gifts during the month of December.



A recent SVP social-cum-information evening

Although we work at local level, we are part of a much larger organisation. The St. Vincent de Paul Society is a national and international charity and so we have moral and financial responsibilities for other parts of the Society, for example, we support an SVP group in Sudan. During the past year we have sent donations to Youth SVP whose members are doing sterling work in schools, colleges and universities, and to the SVP Furniture Store in Manchester that provides and delivers household items to those in need.

 For further information about the Parish SVP Conference please contact Clare Broughton, Conference President.

 To discover more about the SVP generally


Parish Social Activities

Although without a fixed programme of social events, the community does enjoy a rich variety of social occasions held in the Becket Suite. These are usually hosted by a Social Committee or by one of the parish organisations, such as the S.V.P. or the CAFOD group, or and may include some light refreshment or a meal, live entertainment or a quiz, or a good old-fashioned sing-a-long as with the Carol Singing at the annual Mulled Wine evening.

These events have their own special value in providing the opportunity, not only for a 'good night out', but in enabling people who see each other regularly in church to meet each other at last and to engage in lively conversation. They thus contribute to the community-building aspect of parish life. It is very encouraging to see a steady flow of newcomers to these occasions. Whatever the event, whoever has organised it, if there is a parish 'do' coming up, know that you will be always welcome.


mulled wine.jpg


He's been mulling it for years, and keeps the entire process top secret, but when it's ready it smells good, it tastes good, and it puts you in good voice and humour for the Carol singing. The Mulled Wine evening is a popular traditional winter special. Low lights, candles, plenty of mince pies, music and laughter, just what is needed to blow away the winter blues.


mulled singing.jpg










cafod lunch.jpg


Sunday lunch, a delightful hot  meal, plenty of good company, bargain stalls, raffles and a really enjoyable family occasion;  and on top of all that a wonderful fund-raiser for CAFOD.

This is a well-established event provided by the Cafod group. Very handy - no Sunday cooking, just come down to the Becket Suite after the 11.00 o'clock Mass, enjoy, and keep the afternoon free.   









Here's a social evening with an additional purpose - an enjoyable occasion, with usual food and drink and time to meet and chat, but also a valuable information evening run by the S.V.P.







Parish Family Rambles

Every first Sunday of the month a group of parishioners meet outside the church, ready to set off on another country walk together. The list of itineraries is most inviting and the company is exceedingly friendly.

Here are some samples of the notices that have appeared in the parish newsletter during recent months:

- We will be walking from Lancashire's most beautiful village, Downham, to the top of Pendle Hill to see one of the most impressive views around. Distance 5 miles, height rise 500 metres but going slowly, or you may wish to stay in the village to stroll.

- A lovely 5 mile walk in the beautiful Trough of Bowland finishing in a local hostelry for refreshments. Our very friendly group meet outside church at 10am, returning at approx 5.30. - Meet outside Church at 1pm for a 5 mile ramble at a local beauty spot with glorious Autumn tints.

- This week's walk is flat and lovely for approximately 7 miles combining coast, canal and countryside

- Then there is the BIG one: The Jim Sykes Memorial Five Towers Hike - a 25 mile sponsored hike in aid of Cafod, following Jim Sykes' footsteps over Rivington Pike, Winter Hill, Darwen Tower, Holcombe Tower and Grants Tower.The lovely scenic route is suitable for accompanied children aged 8 and above, and there will be transport back up if people wish to do just part of the walk.   


Below are some photographs of our ramblers simply enjoying the beauty of the country, the freshness of the air, and the joy of good company.


























family walk.jpg


Jon Worthington will offer you all the information you may need, even to arranging transport to take you to the day's destination. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with him to receive a warm welcome. 

Here is Jon (on the left) with his fellow leader Terry Woods. Together they have enormous experience of leading walks, some short and simple, others longer and more demanding, but always within the capacity of those who are taking part.


fam walk.jpg