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Iconic Preston church set to be saved

Posted on - 7th April, 2014 - 10:01pm | Author - | Posted in - Ashton-on-Ribble, News

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The Catholic Diocese of Lancaster recently issued a press release concerning an iconic Preston landmark.

The much welcomed statement reveals that the Catholic church of St Walburge has been given a promise of a sustainable future following an announcement on Sunday 6 April 2014 by the Bishop of Lancaster, the Rt Rev Michael G Campbell OSA.

The announcement said after 12 months of negotiation Bishop Michael Campbell and Monsignor Gilles Wach, General Prior of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, together with Parish Priest Father Simon Hawksworth, agreed to establish a foundation of the Institute at the Church of St Walburge early this autumn.

The arrival of the Institute will, according to Bishop Campbell enable the church to be open each day as shrine or centre for Eucharistic devotion and adoration.

The shrine will specifically provide for the celebration of Holy Mass and the other Sacraments in the Extraordinary Form. They will cater for Catholics who like their mass in Latin.

Father Robert Billing, spokesman for the Diocese commented: “The members of the Institute will work in close collaboration with Parish Priest, Father Simon Hawksworth.

“Importantly, the announcement of this initiative – following twelve months of negotiations – delivers good news: it will ensure the future sustainability and patrimony of St Walburge’s church; a church so dear to local Catholics and many others in Preston.

“Thankfully, this announcement means St Walburge’s is secured for the future, will be used each day for prayer and cared for as it continues to bear witness to the faith and mission of the Catholic Church in Preston.”

The striking St Walburge’s Church can be found on Weston Street, Preston. Built in the mid-19th century by Joseph Hansom (inventor of the Hansom cab) it is famous as having the tallest spire of any parish church in England.

St Walburge’s is designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building and an ‘architectural gem’.
Open for worship since 1854 St Walburge’s church, along with several other churches in Preston, had been threatened with merging and closure of parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Lancaster following the Fit for Mission reorganisation review which began in 2007. Falling numbers church attendees meant the church could have been closed for good.

To see some excellent images of St Walburge’s Church have a look at the St Walburge’s Group on Flickr.

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