I've just read via Facebook that a neighbouring parish, St Mary's Brownedge, is heading for major changes. If true, how very sad for the people there and for the Benedictines of Ampleforth. Do pray for them.
Bishop John Arnold of Salford and Abbot Cuthbert Madden OSB of Ampleforth Abbey were unexpectedly present at Masses this weekend at St Mary's, Brownedge, Bamber Bridge. During each Mass it was announced that the Ampleforth Benedictines would be leaving the Parish by the end of this year and handing over responsibility for the Parish to the Diocese of Salford, breaking a link stretching back to 1780 in the parish itself and to the late 1600s in terms of a Benedictine presence in the area. Abbot Cuthbert stated that he had no choice and that the decision was made with regret. At present it is understood that the Benedictines will continue to serve their other parishes in the locality, i.e. Our Lady and St Gerard Majella, Lostock Hall (Diocese of Salford) and St Mary's, Leyland and and St Joseph's, Brindle (both Archdiocese of Liverpool). However an ageing community at Ampleforth and falling numbers means that eventually Ampleforth will also withdraw from these parishes as it has done so in its other parishes in recent years (e.g. St Mary's, Warrington). It is assumed that St Benedict's Monastery, Bamber Bridge will close. Whilst the parish had been forewarned last year by the Abbot that a withdrawal would inevitably happen at some point in the future, the sudden and, at this time, unexpected news has been met with shock and dismay. Please pray for the Parish, the Ampleforth Community, particularly those serving in the Parish, and the Diocese of Salford.