04:32AM, Tuesday 17 December 2013
Determined villagers are fighting to save their church in Eton Wick.
Worshippers who use St Gilbert's Roman Catholic Church in Eton Wick Road received word from the Bishop of Northampton's office a few weeks ago that it would close at the end of November.
But they won a 'stay of execution' after nearly 900 supporters signed a petition.
Worshipper Teresa Stanton said: "We have been given a reprieve and told to go ahead and celebrate our 50th anniversary in May. But if the shortage of priests becomes more acute we could still have to close."
It is this shortage that is at the root of the problem.
The church is linked with Our Lady of Peace in Burnham and St Andrews in Cippenham. Father Andy Richardson from Burnham is the parish priest but colleagues from St Ethelberts at Slough often have to help out.
Mary McCarthy - who received an MBE and a papal medal for her work running St Gilbert's youth group Charlie's Angels for 20 years - is going to see the Bishop of Northampton Peter Doyle next month with a small delegation of hopeful villagers.
She said: "It has taken some time as he is very busy but we want to see what we can do. Some of the priests who officiate at Mass at our church now are over 70 so there is a problem. But we are keeping our hopes up."
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