A church which has served its congregation for almost 40 years has closed its doors after it faced a £40,000 repair bill.
The cost of electrical work at Holy Rosary RC Church, in Horsley Hill Square, South Shields, stood at £18,000 - before other repairs and redecoration could be considered.
With a bill of £40,000 and like most churches, its population was quite aged, so with numbers falling all the time, it really wasn’t viable.Fr John Gibbons
Discussions about the future of building and its land are ongoing between the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle and Depaul, a worldwide homeless charity inspired by the work of St Vincent de Paul.
The decision to close the church in recent weeks comes as part of the church’s Forward Together in Hope project in the area.
It was launched by Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, Seamus Cunngingham, with the aim of making better use of resources and to help churches thrive in “light of fewer priests and smaller congregations.”
The church, which was the responsibility of Father Michael Weymes, shut after the proposal was approved by the bishop.
Father John Gibbons, the parish priest for St Oswald’s and Sacred, spoke on behalf of the South Shields, Boldon and Whitburn cluster of parishes.
He said: “With a bill of £40,000 and like most churches, its population was quite aged, so with numbers falling all the time and the price of repairs, it really wasn’t viable.
“It is sad, but we have continued some of the mass times at St Gregory’s.”
To ensure those who attended its Saturday evening mass, 5.30pm service is now included in the St Gregory schedule.
Holy Rosary was opened in April 1968 and designed by Anthony J Rossi and build by Sunderland firm Randle and Co, with its hall added in 1980.
The parish was formed in 1955 to serve the Marsden and Horsley Hill housing estates, with masses held in St Gregory’s RC Primary School hall until a presbytery was built in 1958.
The renewal programme has also seen a reduction in services held at St Vincent’s Church in Whitburn.
More details on the cluster is available via https://cpsswb.weebly.com/.