A Catholic parish in Derry is to lose its solely church after a non secular order determined to not renew the lease on the constructing.
Since being arrange 27 years in the past, Culmore parish has used a church owned by the Sisters of Mercy for its companies. However, the Sunday Independent has discovered the order lately knowledgeable the diocese that its lease for the church constructing wouldn’t be renewed after April subsequent yr.
Culmore parishioners have been instructed they must attend companies in neighbouring areas as soon as their church is not obtainable. When this occurs, it’s believed Culmore would be the solely Catholic parish in Ireland with out its personal church.
The scenario at Culmore, which is positioned on the outskirts of Derry metropolis and has a inhabitants of round 4,000 folks, is anticipated to lift questions on the way forward for the Catholic Church’s infrastructure.
With the variety of monks declining and the affect of the Covid pandemic on attendance at non secular companies, there have been requires some smaller church buildings to be closed and parishes merged.
The church presently utilized by Culmore parish is on the massive Thornhill web site, which was beforehand residence to Thornhill College.
However, the varsity moved to a brand new location in 2002 and the Sisters of Mercy subsequently offered a big a part of the location to a developer who’s planning to construct a retirement village on the land.
The order retained possession of a constructing generally known as Thornhill House on the location. The chapel hooked up to Thornhill House is the one utilized by Culmore parish.
A spokesperson for the Sisters of Mercy stated Thornhill House has been “mostly vacant” for greater than two years, excluding the chapel, which is leased “short term” to the diocese.
“This lease is due to expire at the end of April 2023 and is not being renewed, by agreement of both parties,” the spokesperson stated.
“We should now decide on the issue of a a lot wider and unoccupied vacant web site. We have had discussions with the native parish priest and bishop on this matter.
“We are now in the process of deciding what to do with the wider site, with the lease expiring early next year and the entire property then becoming vacant. We have taken no actions or made any decision in regard to the future of the property at this time.”
The Sisters of Mercy consultant stated they understood that many native folks had developed hyperlinks with the Thornhill chapel.
“We deeply regret that it will not be possible to facilitate its use by the community into the future,” they stated.
A spokesperson for Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown confirmed Culmore parish was to lose its solely church.
“The parish has never had a church of its own since its establishment around 27 years ago,” he stated. “For all of its lifetime, it was ready to make use of the chapel of Thornhill House for public plenty and different sacraments.
“However, the diocese was informed on February 7, 2022, that the Sisters of Mercy had definitively decided to divest themselves of Thornhill House. The Diocese of Derry would not be able to use the chapel once the house was sold. The bishop informed the parish priest that it would be important that parishioners should find out the facts as soon as possible.”
Plans have been put ahead plenty of years in the past to construct a church within the space. A group was arrange and one native supply claimed as a lot as £750,000 was raised, but the plans have been later scrapped.
It is known the proposal to construct the brand new Culmore church didn’t proceed as a result of the Derry diocese was proud of the preparations in place in relation to the leasing of the Sisters of Mercy church.
The Sunday Independent requested the diocese what had occurred to the cash raised for the proposed Culmore church. In response, the spokesperson for Bishop McKeown stated that on the finish of 2011, Culmore parish priest Father Colum Clerkin instructed parishioners no new church can be constructed. They have been knowledgeable there have been inadequate funds to construct a church and no new donations can be sought.
The spokesperson added: “Some of those who contributed to the building fund asked for and received back what they had contributed. The parish currently holds around £400,000 from that original fund.”
The diocese declined to touch upon what plans there have been for the cash left over from the Culmore assortment.