Rosmini Centre founder and former Wisbech priest dies

Queen's Voluntary Award presentation, Rosmini Centre, Wisbech. Left: Chris Alecock, John McGill, Ani

Queen's Voluntary Award presentation, Rosmini Centre, Wisbech. Left: Chris Alecock, John McGill, Anita Grodkiewicz, Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Hugh Duberly, Father John Doman IC and Isabella Alecock. - Credit: Archant

A former parish priest of Wisbech and a founder of the Rosmini Centre, has died of cancer.

Father John Doman, the parish priest from 2004 to 2011, had been ill for some time.

Hilary Finlay, a parishioner, said: “John reached out to all the people of Wisbech, irrespective of race, colour or creed.

“Among his many achievements was the creation of the Rosmini Centre in Wisbech where his memory will be revered for many a year.”

Details of his funeral at Ratcliffe College, Leicestershire are yet to be finalised.

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Father Doman’s vision was to provide the town with a centre to meet the needs of all ages and groups in the community.

Thanks to a massive grant of more than £300,000, that vision became a reality in 2008 when work began on the Rosmini Centre as it stands today.

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The money was given by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and the centre was officially opened in 2009.

At the time he said: “It is not a Catholic thing; it is not a migrant thing, it is for everyone.

“This will be totally independent from the church. A community centre should be open to the community and that seems to be the right way to go about it.”

The current Rosmini Centre was started in 2005 by Father Doman and John McGill, to cope particularly with the influx of newcomers from Eastern Europe.

As many migrants are Catholic, the church became a natural magnet for those coping with the problems of living away from their families.

The church was called upon to provide emergency accommodation, help and support accessing local services and even resolving parking disputes.

Retired teacher Mike Stallard, of Elm, offered free English classes once a week and it became obvious there was a huge need for help.

Some funding was given from the parish and Fenland District Council to improve access to the building.

In 2006 money from Global Grants enabled a part-time project manager to explore the long-term implications of what was happening in the locality and a link was set up with the College of West Anglia to provide life skills courses.

Although there were increasing numbers of migrant families to deal with, it was recognised that a community centre should cater for the needs of the whole community, to help bring people together whatever their nationality or faith. It was also clear that present facilities needed improving.

Trustees succeeded in their bid from EEDA’s Investing in Communities Programme to improve and extend the facilities and once the centre was fully operational it opened every day providing a wide range of facilities and services.

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