Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Church to close as priest is set to leave parish

A CONGREGATION is angry after being told that a church is to close next week.

St Andrews Catholic Church in Blackrod will hold its last mass on Sunday.

Those who worship are now expected to travel to Horwich or Haigh.

The church is to close because a priest has become the Bishop of Shrewsbury.

Gordon Finnerty, who lives in Blackrod, said the church in Hill Lane attracts about 80 people each week.

He said: “There is now a shortage of priests in the area and it seems that Blackrod always gets the short straw. A lot of people are upset and disappointed about this and feel let down.

“It will be difficult for people to travel to other churches if they don’t have a car because the bus times are either too early or too late for the service.”

Angela Higham, who goes to mass every week, has written a letter to the Bishop, the Rt Rev Terence Brain.

She said: “I wrote to express my sadness and disappointment. I moved to Blackrod the day before the church opened, and I understand that it was funded by local people. Prior to that it was held in a room above the British Legion. There is a mass at Haigh on Saturday night and Sunday morning — both of which fulfil the obligation. I can’t understand why there cannot be one at each.

“There are a lot of elderly people who will not be able to get to Haigh or Horwich.”

A spokesman for The Diocese of Salford said: “In recent months the parishes of St Mary’s Horwich, The Immaculate Conception Haigh, and Holy Family New Springs in Wigan have been working together on various pastoral initiatives.

“With the impending departure from Holy Family of its parish priest, Monsignor Mark Davies, to become Bishop of Shrewsbury, the chapel of ease of St Andrew Blackrod, served from the parish of the Immaculate Conception, has had to close. This closure enables the smaller number of clergy available to continue to serve the three parishes.”

The news comes as St Peter and St Paul’s Church, in Pilkington Street, Bolton, has been saved for the foreseeable future. The church, which was founded in 1794, had been earmarked for closure.

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