CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating a feat “almost unique in the Western world” with the re-opening of an historic Wirral church.
Ss Peter and Paul’s in New Brighton was shut in August 2008 despite a huge battle by local churchgoers.
Known as the Dome of Home because of its prominent position providing a landmark for sailors travelling into Liverpool Bay, the listed building has since been left idle.
But next Friday, March 4, at 9.15am the first Celebration of Holy Mass will be held there since it was closed.
Frank McGowan of the campaign group SOUL said he was now “hopeful about the church in the long term”.
He said: “We have a foot in the door now with this Mass. Rome have told us that it has virtually never happened in the Western world before for a church that was closed to be re-opened.
“It’s quite an amazing thing SOUL has achieved, it’s a unique occasion, and much of it down to the hard work of Cath Nelson and Bill Iveson.”
The diocese said the church was too large for the congregation and too expensive to keep operating.
This was disputed by those opposed to the closure.
Since then the efforts to see the church re-opened have continued, with a legal case taken to the Vatican and SOUL’s tireless campaign.
Local councillor Tony Pritchard paid tribute to “SOUL and the thousands of other people who supported this campaign” and added that he and Cllr Paul Hayes, who has also backed the campaign, are to meet the Bishop soon “to explore ways of bringing the church back into full use”.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Shrewsbury said following the decree to merge the parishes of Ss Peter and Paul and English Martyrs in Wallasey Village Fr Philip Moor will be inducted as priest for the new parish of the Holy Apostles and Martyrs.
He said: “The dioceses can also confirm that one weekday Mass each week will be celebrated in the Day Chapel in Ss Peter and Paul’s, beginning Friday March 4. This is solely on the personal initiative of the Rt Rev Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury.”
He said the Bishop is in discussions with English Heritage and the church Patrimony Committee and “exploring the possibility of a community of priests establishing a foundation at Ss Peter and Paul’s”.http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool...00252-28216576/