Final mass marks end of an era at popular Padiham church

Leading the final mass at St Philip's Church in Padiham are (from left to right) Rev JohnDaly, Rev Francis Jennings, Rev Paul Blackburn, Rev Alan Swift, Rt Rev John Arnold and Rev Peter Hopkinson
Leading the final mass at St Philip's Church in Padiham are (from left to right) Rev JohnDaly, Rev Francis Jennings, Rev Paul Blackburn, Rev Alan Swift, Rt Rev John Arnold and Rev Peter Hopkinson

Worshippers gathered for the final mass at the church that has been at the centre of the community for 60 years.

The mass at St Philip's was celebrated by the Bishop of Salford the Rt Rev John Arnold and concelebrated by several priests from the Lancashire area.

Parishioners were then welcomed into the parish hall for a reception to mark the occasion.

Bishop Arnold said: “I understand that there is sadness amongst the parishioners at St Philips.

"But I know that they will take their commitment and faith for this church down the road to St Johns, and make a stronger missionary parish.

"Which is what we must be creating here in our diocese.

"Tonight’s Mass has provided us with an opportunity to give thanks for all the years at St Philip’s.

"I would like to thank all those who have joined us and have spent time organising this evening’s celebration. ”

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 the Ribble Valley.

Pat McGough, who has been attending the church since she was a child and takes communion to housebound parishioners, said: “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.

“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: “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 pastoral needs.

"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.

"The 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 love.

“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.”

No final decisions on the future use of St Philip's has been made and the spokesman said that 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.

The spokesman added: "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.