Another Catholic church in Preston is to change hands, with English Martyrs the latest to be reliquished by the Diocese of Lancaster.
The church, in Garstang Road, is being taken over by the same missionary society which has been running St Walburge’s for the past three years.
Traditional Latin services will be introduced at English Martyrs, although an English Mass will continue for the next year - but on a Saturday evening instead of Sunday morning.
Bishop Michael Campbell announced the move in a letter to the congregation this week. In it he said the decision “offers a much-needed practical and pastoral help to you and your priests in order to preserve your church.”
The switch comes after months of speculation that English Martyrs would suffer the fate of some other Catholic churches in the city, closed down due to falling numbers and mounting maintenance costs. St Ignatius was eventually taken over by Indian Syro Malabar Catholics and St Walburge’s was handed over to the Florence-based Institute of Christ The King Sovereign Priest, who will now take over the direct administration of the 150-year-old English Martyrs, possibly by the autumn.
“Of course, there will be those who tell us that the presence of the Catholic Church in this part of Preston is finished. I cannot agree,” said Bishop Campbell. “If we ignore this situation things will continue to detriorate around us.”