Catholic church in Kilmarnock faces radical upheaval

A Kilmarnock priest is calling for calm after proposals to half the number of parishes in the town were made public.

A document called Embracing Change has been produced in response to a time of ‘radical upheaval’ in the RC church and calls for the number of parishes in Kilmarnock to be cut from four to two, with the focus then remaining on St Joseph’s and Mount Carmel.

This would mean an uncertain future for the remaining two churches in Kilmarnock – St Michael’s in Shortlees and St Matthews’s in New Farm Loch.

The document states that the “present number of properties cannot be sustained” and points to a decreasing number of active clergy and parishioners and a drop in income

But Father Stephen Latham of St Joseph’s said on Monday: “This paper has been produced in an attempt to provoke discussion, not to frighten people and I would like to see people’s fears allayed.

“Yes, there are proposals to cut the number of parishes, but this may not happen, and if it was to happen it would happen gradually.

“If the parishes are not cut and it was decided that two priests could cover the four churches, then other changes would have to be made to compensate for that. This could include lay people taking on visits to people and other duties.”

Other proposals would see St Paul’s in Hurlford and St Sophia’s in Galston merge, with St Sophia’s (pictured) remaining as the principal church.

• Full story at the Kilmarnock Standard.