Churches set to close as part of ‘radical’ changes

By Bob Rogers   |   Reporter   |
Saturday 30th April 2016 12:53 pm
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Sant Garmon

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A NUMBER of Catholic churches in Dwyfor are set to close as the Bishop of Wrexham outlines “radical” change to an “unsustainable” situation as congregation and priest numbers drop.

The churches earmarked for closure in Dwyfor are Sant Garmon in Abersoch, Holy Spirit in Criccieth and The Resurrection of Our Saviour in Morfa Nefyn. Sunday Mass at St Mary’s in Beddgelert and Sunday (Vigil) Mass at Ysbyty Gwynedd will also come to an end.

A single parish will be created comprising the current parishes of St Joseph in Pwllheli and Most Holy Redeemer in Porthmadog.

Father Peter Brignall’s shock plans were announced in a pastoral letter to parishioners earlier this month.

Father Brignall acknowledged that the sweeping changes, which will close 22 churches in north Wales, will be seen by some as “shocking” and a “scandal”.

Abersoch councillor Wyn Williams says he hopes the Church will make a U-turn on its decision to close Sant Garmon.

He said: “It is very sad to hear the church is closing, it provides a service to the locals as well as visiting Catholic friends, not to mention the building has a very historical side to it as well.

“However, I do understand the reasons for the closure of the churches. I understand there are a lack of priests in north Wales, I believe by 2020 there will only be 10.

“It will be a huge shame for the church in Abersoch to close as its morning service is such a big part of the Catholic visitors’ lives during the tourist season.

“I do hope they reconsider their decision to close it.”

In his pastoral letter, Father Brignall said the plans will be a “challenge”, but “also a huge opportunity for ren­ewal”.

“Churches are going to be closed and I hope some new ones built; parishes are going to be suppressed and new ones established and some Mass times will be altered,” he said.

“Not all of this will happen at once, but some of it will happen immediately.

“The model of the Church we have inherited is, in business terms, no longer fit for purpose and failing now in her mission.

“Our Catholic communities have not grown from within, have not produced native vocations to the priesthood and religious life in anything like sufficient numbers to maintain the parish structures that our forbearers have handed down to us.”

Father Brignall added: “This situation is not sustainable, the current model of church that we have is not realistic and we don’t have the time to evolve to ano­ther model; there has to be radical but, I hope, creative change.

“Many of the details and consequences of closures and reorganisation cannot be worked out beforehand and can only be faced in the reality of the new situation.”

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