This weekend the Diocese of Salford published its plan for the future organisation of its parishes and churches.
a statement the Diocese says: "This release followed a very successful
consultation process during the latter half of 2016. The consultation
saw over 2000 responses to the proposed plans. The overwhelming majority
of these responses were positive, as parishioners across the diocese
embraced the message of the diocese moving forward to enable its local
Entitled: 'Strengthening Our Presence as Church, a
Journey in Hope' , the document released by the Bishop of Salford, Rt
Rev John Arnold, outlines the changes to the parishes that will be
implemented over the coming months and years.
The document illustrates
how the diocese can be better organised to reflect the number of people
regularly attending church and the number of priests in the diocese.
These changes include a number of parish amalgamations and church
Just over 100 parishes will be involved in
amalgamations. The plan identifies the closure of 22 churches across the
diocese, three of which are not currently used.
have been developed for a number of reasons including to encourage
parishioners to support and manage the general administration of
parishes. This is intended to give priests more time to perform their
pastoral duties, including the celebration of Mass, ministering to the
sick, elderly and infirm and working in schools and colleges with young
A full list of the changes can be found at: http://www.dioceseofsalford.org.uk/
Bishop Arnold said: "This plan is a real chance to make changes
that will help build, sustain and grow parishes fit for future
generations. Not just for members of our Church but also for the wider
community we live in.
The plan allows the Diocese of Salford to
look forward, creating outward facing parishes, responding to the call
from Pope Francis to develop 'missionary parishes'.
The Catholic Church plays an essential role in delivering key
services across the world and we have some excellent examples of local
projects and groups here in Salford. I am hopeful these changes will
support these projects to continue and enable other projects to emerge.
understand that where churches are closing this will be met with
initial sadness from parishioners. But I am sure that these feelings can
be overcome as our new communities come together in prayer and to
welcome one another."
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford covers much of Greater
Manchester north of the Mersey and Lancashire round Accrington,
Blackburn, Burnley and Longridge and the parish of Dunsop Bridge.
1. How many parishes will amalgamate or churches close?
Just over 100 of our current 150 parishes will be involved in
amalgamations. Of these, 31 are already working with the parish(es) that
it is proposed they amalgamate with. The plan only identifies the closure of 22 churches (and 3 of them are not currently being used).
2. How soon will the amalgamation and closures happen?
This will vary. Each parish plan will be based on local
circumstances. These changes will not all happen at once but over the
coming months and years.
This plan is designed to create the future structure of the diocese
but it will be implemented in stages appropriate to each situation.
3. Can I have a copy of the recommendations?
A printed document was made available in all churches of the diocese on the weekend of 14th/15th January.
It is available online at: http://www.dioceseofsalford.org.uk
4. Why does this have to happen?
The history of the diocese is one of amalgamating parishes and
opening and closing churches to suit pastoral needs. These proposed
changes are a continuation of the Church's response to new and emerging
We need to look at how we can serve our parishes
in the best way possible, taking into account changing contexts in terms
of the number of priests and people regularly attending church.
Catholic Church has an essential role to play in serving people across
the region, and around the world. In these times of political, economic
and social uncertainty, we must ensure the Church continues to be
missionary and outward facing, spreading the Gospel message of God's
5. Who drafted the document?
The document has been developed by the Bishop in conjunction with all
priests serving in the diocese. The responses to the 2016 consultation
were all carefully considered. There were over 2000 responses to the
6. What will happen to churches that are closed? Will they be sold?
No final decisions on the future use of the building have yet been
made. Each building will be considered as an individual case and it is
hoped that some use can be found for each one, with priority given to
whether or not it can be used for a community purpose.
There is no intention to dispose of these buildings, unless it
becomes absolutely necessary to do so. In a few cases, where the fabric
is in poor condition, demolition may be considered as a final resort
and the future of the land be considered for appropriate development,
such as social housing.