‘That on 12 October 2014 the Parish of St Paul’s, Muirhouse will be completely SUPPRESSED’
A small band gathered to stage a candlelit vigil before the final Friday evening Mass at the Muirhouse Avenue church, one final protest. They were quiet, they were dignified, they were peaceful and they made their point – but ultimately, their efforts were in vain.
Church authorities had already made the decision to close the church and the Decree passed to that effect was pinned to a noticeboard – which ironically heralds ‘Welcome’ – inside the church doors (below).
The Decree, which is signed by Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Leo Cushley and Chancellor Rev Scott Deeley, states:
1. That on 12 October 2014 the Parish of St Paul’s, Muirhouse will be completely SUPPRESSED;
2. That on 12 October 2014 the territory of the former Parish of St Paul’s Muirhouse will become part of the parish of St Margaret’s, Davidsons Mains;
3. The faithful domiciled in the former territory of the parish of St Paul’s Muirhouse will become parishioners of St Margaret’s, Davidsons Mains;
4. That on Sunday 12 October 2014 the church of St Paul’s Muirhouse will no longer be used for the Liturgy pending relegation to profane but not sordid use;
The Decree goes on to say that all assets and the parish registers will be transferred from St Paul’s to St Margaret’s.
So the battle’s over and the campaigners many questions – among them, just how did the church’s debt mushroom to £284,000 and why was it allowed to spiral out of control? – will go unanswered.
Children from St David’s RC Primary School in West Pilton will now have to find their way to St Margaret’s in Davidson’s Mains for their church services – a considerable distance on busy roads. And the stalwarts of St Paul’s’ men’s club – who have met socially at the church for over forty years, but were not even informed of the intention to close the church – what future for them? Where do they go?
Churches are not about buildings, of course. Churches are the people, the people are the church. The church authorities have cited falling congregations as one of the reasons for Muirhouse closure, but Muirhouse and Pennywell is an area undergoing a major regeneration. Thousands have left the area as their homes were knocked down, but thousands more will return as new homes are built. Many of the families making their homes in Muirhouse will be Eastern European, many of whom are Catholic.
So as I watched worshippers going in to church on Friday as the sun went down, I did wonder: where will these people go? Yes, they’ll have nice new homes – but no spiritual home at the heart of their new community?