Services at Preston’s landmark St Walburge’s Church, which were threatened by falling congregations, are to continue . . . in Latin.
The imposing building, whose 309-foot spire can be seen for miles around, had been facing the prospect of closure as the Catholic Church struggles for an audience in the centre of the city.
But now the Bishop of Lancaster has announced the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, which celebrates the traditional Tridentine Mass, could be conducting services in the church by the autmun. “The future of St Walburge’s Church came into very serious question in the light of much fewer people at Mass in this vast and yet most beautiful church,” said Bishop Michael Campbell in a statement read out at Preston churches on Sunday.
“The arrival and presence of the Institute at St Walburge’s will enable the sustainability and care of this magnificent church so that it can be open each day as a shrine or centre for Eucharistic devotion and adoration.”
St Walburge’s was built in 1847 and its spire is the third tallest in the UK. But falling attendances - a cause for concern within inner Preston - meant it could have faced decommission.
“There are some voices - even now - who tell me that the presence of the Catholic Church in inner Preston is finished,” added Bishop Campbell. “I cannot agree. We need to be here in a new shape and form and at the same time to strengthen our missionary presence and vitality.”
St Walburge’s will continue to celebrate the Ordinary Form Mass on a Sunday for as long as there is a need.