Worshippers at a doomed church are vowing to fight the good fight to save it – even after it closes its doors tomorrow.
And as 140 regulars at St Ignatius in Preston attend Mass for the final time in the morning, another Cathloic congregation across the city will also be saying farewell as part of the same parish reorganisation.
More than 80 at St Augustine’s, who have been worshipping in a school hall since their church building was closed 30 years ago, have been told they too will be homeless altogether after tomorrow. “We only found out about three weeks ago that we were being shut down,” said Ralph Cooper. “The news has come as a bolt from the blue.”
The regulars of St Ignatius are refusing to give up campaigning for a rethink, despite tomorrow’s Mass being the last in the historic building after 178 years. “This isn’t the end,” insisted church secretary Moira Cardwell, who two weeks ago threatened to chain herself to the railings in protest at the closure.
“The fight will go on. We aren’t giving up. We will continue doing everything in our power to get the church to change its mind.”
Regulars at both churches – many in their seventies and eighties – are refusing to switch to either English Martyrs or St Joseph’s.
At St Ignatius, Mrs Cardwell added: “Some have been attending this church ever since they were baptized here. They have been in tears over this – and they’re not the only ones.
“As far as I can gather most will not be going to English Martyrs. It’s almost a mile away and they just can’t get there.”
At St Augustine’s, Ralph Cooper said: “Feelings are running very high over this news. It’ll be a very sad occasion tomorrow. I’d say only around a third of our congregation will go to St Joseph’s. We were told in early October that five churches were merging into a new parish. But we didn’t expect this. It’s been done without any consultation.”