LANGHOLM’s Catholic church has heard its last mass after being forced to close yesterday.
St Francis Catholic Church has been shut as a result of a decreasing congregation and continued rising costs.
The parish priest of Annandale and Eskdale, Joseph Holmes, said: “It is with great sadness and regret the Catholic parish of Annandale and Eskdale accepts the inevitable closure of one of its four churches – that of St Francis Church in Langholm.
“Since the parish priest of Lockerbie left the diocese to pursue ministry to the armed forces in 2006, concern has grown about the viability of all Catholic churches, especially that of St Francis in Annandale and Eskdale.
“The amalgamation of four communities – St Columba’s (Annan), Holy Trinity (Lockerbie), St Luke’s (Moffat) and St Francis (Langholm) – into the one big rural parish of Annandale and Eskdale meant a very difficult task of administration and providing quality service to Catholics of this huge area. Dwindling numbers attending church and spiralling costs have forced the Catholic communities in Annan, Lockerbie, Moffat and Langholm to constantly challenge themselves as to the viability of each community and church since the amalgamation of all in 2006.”
The priest admitted: “Unquestionably, there are members of the Catholic community in Langholm hurt by this decision, especially those who kept solidarity with their church all the way through, and we are all saddened by it.”
Around £75,000 was raised for St Francis nine years ago to restore the Drove Road building and it was blessed by the Bishop of Galloway at a service in 2001 watched by more than 120 people.