A LANDMARK Wirral church closed, despite the upset caused to parishioners, could be open “24/7” as a beacon for worship, according to its new priest.
Ss Peter and Paul and Philomena was shut in August 2008 causing shock in the community and a high-profile campaign was launched to re-open it.
Against the odds – and having taken the fight to the Vatican – the battle was finally won when services at the so-called “Dome of Home” resumed in its day chapel in March 2011.
It was later announced that the Shrewsbury Diocese had agreed with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest to work towards establishing a foundation of the Institute at the church with the intention of providing a centre for the celebration of Mass and the other Sacraments in Latin.
The church’s new priest, Canon Olivier Meney, has now outlined ambitious plans for the church, renamed Ss Peter and Paul and Philomena, marking the church’s early history.
He said: “The Bishop wants to open the church as a shrine. He wants to promote devotion to the greater sacrament.
“The dream is to have 24/7 public worship in the church and we are going to do that slowly, by steps. It will become a beacon.”
Campaigner Tony Pritchard, a former councillor who had supported those opposing the closure of the church, said many people welcome the new use of the church.
It even held its first Midnight Mass since 2007, with around 100 people attending.
Mr Pritchard said: “All the hard work by the campaigners is amazing, to get from completely closed to opening like this, it’s fantastic.”
Canon Meney hopes Ss Peter and Paul and Philomena will be fully opened in spring, with March 25 the current target.
He said efforts are now underway to see it restored to its former glory, and added: “I am waiting for the report from the architect, so at the moment it is difficult to say what condition the church is in.
“But we have started to clean up the inside, with a lot of ‘elbow grease’.
“It’s a real landmark and I dare to hope everyone in the community will be involved with that, not only Catholics but the whole community.”
One of the keys to the re-opening for worship is its use for holding Mass in Latin, unusual in recent years during which Masses have been held primarily in English in the UK, but becoming more popular.