Some great news announced yesterday by the diocese of Lancaster. St Walburge's Church near the centre of Preston is to be given into the care of the Institute of Christ the King. This iconic church has been under threat for some time due to the movement of population in the the area. It means that the Institute will have two large churches in the North West of England. St Walburge's will follow the pattern of Ss Peter and Paul's in New Brighton under Bishop Mark Davies. It will be a "shrine" church within the ordinary local Catholic parish. In a pastoral letter this weekend Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster says that he has been determined to keep a Catholic presence in the city centre area, which seems to me to be a necessary project. The church is listed and so cannot be pulled down and so it is entirely inappropriate for it to be turned to some other non-Christian use. When that happens to well-known churches it proclaims to the world that we have failed and have given up on ever retrieving our ground there. I'm sure the Institute with their hard work and zeal will establish a very active presence in there, as they have done on the Wirral.
It great for me, as although Preston is in a neighbouring diocese, it is only four miles away from me here in Leyland. Locally in the Liverpool Archdiocese (not large geographically) we are fortunate in that there are four regular EF Sunday Masses - all in the morning at reasonable times when people want to go to Mass (two of these, including my own, embedded in the parish and said by the parish priest). Fortunate as well that our new Archbishop, Malcolm McMahon, offers the Traditional Mass. Ss Peter and Paul's is just across the river Mersey from Liverpool city centre and now there will be a high profile presence in Preston as well.
You can see some photos of this fantastic church taken by Lawrence Lew OP.