Rothwell church which faced closure given year-long reprieve

It will now stay open for at least another 12 months
Catholic church St Bernadette’s in RothwellCatholic church St Bernadette’s in Rothwell
Catholic church St Bernadette’s in Rothwell

Parishioners of a Rothwell church say they are delighted and relieved after a decision to keep it open for at least another year.

Members of the congregation at St Bernadette’s in Rock Hill were left stunned after a summer announcement by the Diocese of Northampton that the Catholic church would shut.

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They fought to keep it open and met the Rt Revd David Oakley, Bishop of Northampton, last month to plead their case.

And after further discussions it’s now been confirmed that the church will stay open – with Mass to be celebrated regularly there – until a further review in 12 months.

Parishioner Dr Janet Squire, who grew up in Rothwell and married husband James at the church in 1973, said: "We felt everything. It was relief, a sense of delight, satisfaction for all of the parishioners who have worked so hard over the years.

"I would be hopeful that this would be the turning point and we can get people motivated to get back to church.”

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The Diocese had previously decided to close both St Bernadette’s and St Patrick’s in Corby, citing dwindling congregations and too few clergy. Despite the Rothwell church’s reprieve there is no change to the provision in Corby.

St Bernadette’s parishioners have agreed to help fund the maintenance of their church, which opened in 1959.

Services will be held at St Bernadette’s at 12.15pm on the first and third Sundays of each month, beginning on November 6. This will be in partnership with Holy Trinity RC Church in Desborough, which will have services at 9am on the second and fourth Sundays.

Parishioners hope that numbers will swell in the coming months to justify their church being maintained for many years to come.

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A Diocese of Northampton spokesman said: “Bishop David Oakley has met with parishioners from St Bernadette’s and listened to their plans for mission activity and growth in the area.

"During the meeting parishioners were keen to indicate that the current low numbers of Mass attendees were due to the challenges of the recent pandemic and requested more time for a true picture of the church in Rothwell to be presented. Bishop David has suggested a further review of the situation in 12 months’ time.”