Parishioners at a Welsh church were shocked to learn just before Christmas that their church is to be closed in a few weeks’ time. The news came in the Christmas newsletter from their bishop.
Bishop Peter Brignall of Wrexham told parishioners at St Michael And All Angels in Conwy that their 100-year-old church would be closing not because of a dwindling congregation but because of a lack of priests.
In addition, the newsletter said, the Church of Sacred Heart in St Augustine’s Priory House of Prayer in the Parish of Old Colwyn is to be amalgamated with Colwyn Bay parish.
“The last parish Masses will be celebrated in these churches on Sunday 11th February 2018, the last Sunday before Lent,” said the bishop.
“People are genuinely heartbroken and disappointed by this decision,” Anne McCaffrey, a member of the 60-strong congregation, told the Daily Post, the Colwyn Bay-based newspaper that covers north Wales. She said there was no reason for closure: “the building is not falling down, there is a strong congregation and there is money in the parish, this is why we are struggling with this news”.
Another parishioner, John Lewis, said: “The news that was given to us the Sunday before Christmas about St Michael’s closing marred our Christmas. We weren’t expecting the news, it was a terrible shock. Members of the congregation are appealing the decision individually.”
He continued: “There is anger as there has been no consultation at all. Also the Bishop has put in planning to extend the Most Holy Family Church in Llandudno Junction into a church hall; we can’t see the point of that when we already have a church hall here.”
In his Christmas newsletter Bishop Brignall said: “This process is not yet complete and there are more closures to come as needs demand.”
Bishop Brignall announced in April 2016 that he planned to close around 20 of the diocese’s 62 churches by 2020, because of the falling numbers of priests under retirement age.
He wrote at the time: “To some it will be shocking, to others not radical enough; to some it will come as a relief, to others a disappointment or even a scandal; to us all it will be a challenge, but I firmly believe also a huge opportunity for renewal.”