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St Bride’s back in action after six month renovation

By Amanda Connelly

ST BRIDE’S Church, East Kilbride, reopened its doors to parishioners, with the parish celebrating its first Mass in the church for six months on August 4 and its first Sunday service on August 7.

St Bride’s had been closed for six months as it underwent extensive renovations, with the nearby St Andrew’s and St Bride’s High School hosting services while work was done on both its interior and exterior.

Last Sunday, parishioners came back to the church for the opening Mass, an extra special occasion for Fr Jacob Okafor of Nigeria, who was celebrating his 23rd anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, and celebrated alongside Deacon John McGarry.

Fr Okafor is looking after the spiritual and pastoral needs of the parish while administrator Fr Rafal Sobieszuk is on holiday. Before he left however, Fr Sobieszuk celebrated the first Mass in the parish since it closed, a month’s mind Mass to remember Canon Michael Ryan, who served the parish of St Bride’s faithfully for 27 years.

Fittingly, it took place on the feast of St John Mary Vianney, patron saint of priests, and saw parishioners, those of neighbouring parishes, friends and priests join together to celebrate.

The Mass had a ‘joyful and meaningful liturgy’ with a homily by Fr Hennessy.

St Bride’s is more than 50 years old, and has been praised by architects, but was in need of a facelift. As part of a £2 million investment, the Category A-listed building had scaffolding and protective wrap placed around it during structural work.

Finishing touches are still to be done on the building’s interior but the renovations are due to be completed on schedule.

John Hastings, a member of the church and one of those who has been leading the fundraising efforts, said: “As far back as 2011 there was a sense that the church needed some major refurbishment.

“Plans were drawn up but they were stuck on the back burner for a few years until a £1 million community grant from Viridor came through.

“Further grants from the National Churches Trust for £40,000, along with funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland, helped make the much-needed restoration a reality.

“And the church itself has undertaken fundraising for the £210,000 balance.”

The original church of St Bride’s was East Kilbride’s first Catholic Church, opening its doors to parishioners in 1907, with the congregation moved to a temporary building for services until the new church was completed in 1955.


—This story ran in full in the August 12 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.


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