RC churches to shut in shake-up

Reporter: Karen Doherty
Date published: 16 January 2017

FOUR Catholic churches in Oldham are to close as part of a shake-up of the region's diocese.

St Mary's in Oldham, Holy Rosary in Fitton Hill and Sacred Heart in Derker will shut, Salford Diocese has announced.

Either St Anne's in Greenacres or St Michael's in Abbeyhills will also close following further consultation.

But there has been a reprieve for Corpus Christi, Hollinwood, which was under threat.

The closures are part of 22 churches in the diocese, three of which are not currently being used, which the Bishop of Salford, the Rt Rev John Arnold, announced yesterday are to go.

Amalgamations will also see the number of local parishes in the deanery of Deanery of Mount Carmel (Oldham) drop from 12 to 8 and the number of diocesan priests from 11 to 8.

The announcement follows several months' consultation on proposals to make sure that parishes are fit for the future and develop more missionary-style parishes

Bishop Arnold said there had been a decline in the number people who regularly attended church and participated in the parish life. But he stressed that there was not a shortage of parish priests, as has been claimed by many people. He also said that the closures would not happen at once, but over months and years.

No decisions have been made on the future of the buildings and it is hoped that community uses can be found.

Buildings will only be sold when "absolutely necessary".

In a few cases where they are in a poor condition demolition may be considered "as a last resort", with land being retained for future use or considered for appropriate development such as social housing.

"This plan is a real chance to make changes that will help build, sustain and grow parishes fit for future generations. Not just for members of our church in Oldham but also for the wider community we live in," said Bishop Arnold.

"The plan allows the Diocese of Salford to look forward, creating outward facing parishes, responding to the call from Pope Francis to develop 'missionary parishes'.

"The Catholic Church plays an essential role in delivering key services across the world and we have some excellent examples of local projects and groups here in Salford. I am hopeful these changes will support these projects to continue and enable other projects to emerge.

"I understand that where churches are closing this will be met with initial sadness from parishioners.

"But I am sure that these feelings can be overcome as our new communities come together in prayer and to welcome one another."

The Diocese of Salford covers much of Greater Manchester north of the Mersey and Lancashire round Accrington, Blackburn, Burnley and Longridge and the parish of Dunsop Bridge.

A full list of the changes can be found at