BY Peter Diamond | March 8 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


‘Very sad day’ as Stewarton church closes after 45 years

Parishioners of a church in Galloway Diocese which has recently been sold have been invited to celebrate a farewell Mass next Saturday.

The parish of Our Lady & St John’s Church in Stewarton, in East Ayrshire, will close next week after the community and the diocese came to a decision last year that the church would be put up for sale.

The parish priest at Our Lady & St John’s has blamed the closure on dwindling numbers and financial constraints.

Fr Martin Chambers, who has been the priest at the Lainshaw Street church for three years, said the decision was ‘very sad.’

The majority of parishioners in Stewarton now attend Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Kilmarnock. Weekend Mass in Stewarton stopped five years ago because the former parish priest was unwell, and a more recent monthly Mass has also now come to an end.

Fr Chambers said: “I believe two factors have led to the church closing: the number of people coming has been greatly reduced and the financial constraints for the church.

“The decision to close the church was taken by the local worshipping community.

“There is no doubt that this is a very, very sad day for the church and for the wider community.

“When I was growing up in Irvine and you missed Mass on Sunday you could go to any number of churches on the bus route instead and Stewarton was one of those great churches—it was very vibrant and lively and they had a great youth group.

“I feel nothing but sadness about the decision.”


Closing Mass

A final Mass on Saturday March 16 will look back over the last 45 years.

“Our final Mass lets us celebrate all of the great times over the past 45 years,” Fr Chambers said.

“The closing of a church is very similar to the closing of a school, except a church will have far deeper emotional ties.

“People have said goodbye to their grandparents here and couples have married and possibly even met here. There are a great deal of memories and a lot of emotional attachment involved.”

The final Mass will be celebrated on Saturday March 16 at 10am where Bishop William Nolan of Galloway Diocese will lead the farewell.

The funds that have been generated from the sale of the church will go towards the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Kilmarnock. The Stewarton church was a chapel of ease of the Kilmarnock parish and it is hoped the new funds will safeguard any more closures in the area.

It is understood that the Brethren Church, a Christian organisation, have bought the building in Stewarton.


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