Bishop set to meet upset Rothwell parishioners after church closure

The last official Mass took place there last month
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A group of Rothwell parishioners who were left stunned by their church’s closure are set to meet the Bishop of Northampton to discuss the decision.

Catholic church St Bernadette’s was one of two – the other being St Patrick’s in Corby – that the Diocese of Northampton announced would shut after a review led by Rt Revd David Oakley.

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But the congregation at the Rock Hill place of worship – which has been a beacon of faith in the town for more than 60 years – say they were not consulted over the decision and are determined to keep it open.

St Bernadette's Church, Rothwell.St Bernadette's Church, Rothwell.
St Bernadette's Church, Rothwell.

The Bishop has now accepted an invitation to meet the parishioners at the church, who have urged anyone with an interest in the site’s future to join them at 5.30pm on Sunday, September 25.

The church was opened in 1959 after lots of fundraising and some parishioners have been worshipping there for more than 50 years.

Dr Janet Squire grew up in Rothwell and married her husband James at the church in 1973. After moving away she came back to the area in 1985 and has been going to St Bernadette’s ever since.

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She said parishioners were stunned, surprised and upset after being told of the closure at the end of a Mass in July. One has already made a funeral plan which includes a Mass at St Bernadette’s.

Dr Squire said: "It’s very much loved by the local congregation. We just do not know why it’s being closed.

"We can’t find the words to describe how we’re feeling. It’s as if the soul has been pulled out of the place.”

Writing to parishioners the Bishop of Northampton said it was with a ‘very heavy heart’ that the pastoral decision had been made to close but that currently the ‘appropriate level of pastoral care’ wasn’t possible. Dwindling congregations and too few clergy have been cited for the closures.

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Parishioners were told that Sunday Mass would continue at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Desborough. The last official Mass at St Bernadette’s took place on August 21. The congregation had been promised that nothing would be removed until they had the chance to meet the Bishop.