Worshippers at a church, which has been at the centre of the community for over 60 years, have been dealt the crushing blow that it is to close.
St Philip’s in Padiham was among seven churches, including St Teresa in Burnley and St Augustine’s in Lowerhouse, earmarked for closure.
The closure announcement was met with dismay and upset by parishioners, although it was news they had been prepared for.
An integral part of the community for decades, the friendly and welcoming atmosphere at the church attracted worshippers from all over East Lancashire, including many from Clitheroe.
The announcement was made in a newsletter and the final mass will be held at the church in Slade Lane next Thursday. (June 29th).
Pat McGough, who has been attending the church since she was a child and takes communion to housebound parishioners, said: “We knew this was coming but now it has happened it is very sad and upsetting.
“This church is a focal point for the community and we have a strong congregation of around 90 and we did fight to save it.
“People come from all over the place to worship here including Clitheroe and Great Harwood.
"It has brought communities together and they will now just scatter.
“There is so much history here and everyone is truly devastated by this news.
“St Philip’s is a gateway to Padiham and this is a real loss for the town.”
News of the closure comes as part of a review by the Bishop of Salford in the wake of decreasing congregation numbers and a drop in ordained priests.
A spokesman on behalf of the Diocese said: “As proposed by Bishop John Arnold in his wider consultation, St Philip’s Church, Padiham, will close in the very near future, although a specific date has not yet been confirmed.
“Further consultation is currently underway with the local clergy and parishioners regarding the proposed closure of either St Augustine’s or St Mary Magdalene’s, Burnley, which will allow the clergy and parishioners to consider the best way forward to continue to serve the needs of the community now and in the future.
“No decisions will be made until after this period of consultation, which will take a maximum of three months, and when these discussions are concluded, the Bishop will make a final decision.”
The spokesman said that no decisions had been made about the future use of St Philip’s Church or the site, which has a separate community hall, priest’s house and the Garden of Remembrance where the ashes of 122 former members were laid to rest.
The spokesman added: “Preserving the proper dignity and respect to the cremated remains of every person whose ashes are interred in the Garden of Remembrance will be of the highest priority.”
When a decision is made about whether or not St Augustine’s or St Mary Magdalene’s will be closed down a new parish will be formed consisting of just two churches.
St Philip’s Church was built on land given to Padiham by Edmund Arthur Le Gendre Starkie of Huntroyde.
The church, which was designed by Padiham architect William Houston, cost £30,000 to build and the parish hall was erected in 1980 at a cost of £58,000. It is a community hub where many local groups and organisations hold regular meetings and events.
St Philip’s merged with St John the Baptist, Padiham, in 2008.
Parish priest Fr Denis Dwyer served at St Philip’s for more than 33 years and was much loved and respected by his congregation. He retired to his native home in Ireland in 2008 and died in 2015.
The final mass at St Philip’s, which the Bishop will attend, takes place on Thursday at 7pm. This will be followed by a buffet supper in the church hall.
Worshippers have been asked for their suggestions for a name for the new parish.
Sheila Stewart, another member of the church all her life, has written this final touching ode to St Philip's.
Trinity Sunday Tribute – Sunday 11 June 2017
As St Philip's Church, this walk is our last
So I give tribute to friends, present and past.
Sunday Mass cut right down to one -
Now St Philip's will soon be gone.
So sad that we must say Goodbye
To save St Philip's we did try.
We've sung out our hearts with our choir so strong
The pews are not empty – it all seems so wrong?
Now we must part – a sad divide,
Happy memories PLEASE now store inside.
Our generations and friends here have been blessed
From the Baptismal Font to Gardens of Rest
For parishioners and clergy all past and now
I give thanks to you the best way I know how
The SMA Clergy will continue to pray
(Please see Perpetual Mass Card)
For ALL enrolled, EVERY day.