Sad day as St Brigid's hears final mass

THE congregation of St Brigid's in Churwell will celebrate mass tonight for the last time.

The Catholic church on Elland Road is closing and its members will join those at St Francis of Assisi in Morley.

The closure and that of Our Lady of the Nativity in East Ardsley is part of a programme of cut backs which will reduce the number of Catholic parishes in the Leeds diocese by almost half.

The decision, made as a result of shrinking congregations and a falling number of priests, came following an 18 month consultation with worshippers across the city.

Parish secretary Theresa Peart said the congregation were saddened by the decision to close the 80-year-old building but they had not had a parish priest for the last two years.

She added: "We put our views forward and entreated him to keep it open, at least as a Chapel of Ease if not a full church, but he has decided it will not be kept open."

Monsignor Michael McQuinn, Vicar General of the Diocese of Leeds, said: "The church in Churwell was opened from St Anthony's in Beeston to cater for the people in that area at a time when it was developing and people didn't have cars and so could not travel so far as they can now.

"Essentially what is happening in the Catholic Church nationally is that we are having a review of the structures we set up during a period

of growth in the 50s and 60.

"In the Morley area there we have St Francis', St Brigid's and the chapel at East Ardsley.

"We cannot sustain three places of worship, we don't have the priests or the financial resources and so the decision has been made to bring the three congregations together."

He added: "We don't take a great deal of pleasure in closing places but the world moves on and we have to respond."

Monsignor McQuinn said a Coptic congregation had shown interest in leasing or buying the building on Churwell Hill and negotiations are underway.

"It would be good for it were possible for it to remain in religious use as it is a pleasant enough little church but If that comes to nothing then, because the church is a registered charity, we have to abide by the charity commission guidelines in dealing with property that is surplus to requirements, and market that site," he added.