Historic Catholic churches in North East Lincolnshire under threat
THE future of the Catholic church in North East Lincolnshire is under review – putting the future of two of the borough's churches under threat.
The Grimsby Telegraph has learned that Nottingham Roman Catholic Diocese is carrying out a review of provision in the area following falling congregation numbers and fewer people being ordained into the priesthood.
As reported, a 2008 review saw St Peter's in Grimsby's Crosland Road, on the Willows estate, being closed down and put on the market.
And now, a newsletter sent to parishioners following a consultation with them, has revealed that unless the Bishop can guarantee two priests will serve the area, "plans should be developed assuming only one priest will serve North East Lincolnshire".
It continued: "The community will have to concentrate on two places of worship and one shared church at Immingham and to be administered as one community or parish.
"It will not be possible financially or necessary for mission within the declining community to maintain two large churches in Grimsby.
"The preferred and most economically viable option in the longer term for Grimsby would be to close and sell St Mary's Church and Rectory (St Mary's on the Hill, Heneage Road) and St Pius X Church and Presbytery (Chelmsford Avenue) and develop a modern, smaller and environmentally friendly church and small community centre elsewhere in Grimsby.
"If it proves to be feasible, the present St John Fisher site (Waltham Road, Scartho) is the preferred location."
The newsletter states that the second choice would be to retain St Pius and close St Mary's – which has far higher maintenance costs.
It also states that Corpus Christi, Cleethorpes – the parishes of which were amalgamated with St Pius, under the control of a single priest, following a similar review in 2008 – "should remain as a place of worship".
It says: "It is the most modern, serves the Cleethorpes community, and its refurbished community centre makes a valuable contribution to the wider community and finances of the parish."
Dean for the area, Father James Earley at St Pius, confirmed there had been a review but stressed nothing was set in stone.
He said: "All we can say is that a consultation process has taken place and we have taken the views of the parishioners of four parishes in the area.
"All options are on the table and the purpose of the review is to look at everything. We are looking at where we are now and where we might end up in the future."
The review has concerned ward councillors in the affected areas, who fear if left empty, the churches would fall into disarray.
St Mary's Church is in Councillor Steve Beasant's (Lib Dem, East Marsh) ward. He said: "I would be absolutely devastated if it were to close. I am not a Catholic or religious person but it is a beautiful building and if it isn't used it could become derelict.
"It could fall into wrack and ruin like so many of the other buildings around. It would be a crying shame and I would expect a lot of people to fight for that church."
Councillor Norma Lincoln (Lab, South) was also shocked to learn that St Pius in her ward could close. She said: "On a Sunday morning that church is stacked out with cars and I am surprised they might be considering closing it."
A parishioner, who did not wish to be named, said: "St. Mary's is the 'mother' church and was built during the period 1879-1883. It has a rare Pugin and Pugin Sacred Heart chapel. It would be enormously sad if it were to close and, presumably, be knocked down in the not too distant future."