Many years ago, when the two former deaneries of Ashton-in-Makerfield and Newton-le-Willows were amalgamated, the linking of the thirteen parishes within them into one new and much larger Pastoral Area made very little sense, either geographically or pastorally, and we have been struggling with this tension ever since. With the recent move of Father Ron Johnson, the position of Dean became vacant and, after consultation with the deanery clergy, with the local deans, and with the members of the Archbishop's Council, Archbishop Malcolm has decided not to appoint a new dean but to suppress the Ashton-in-Makerfield Pastoral Area and to allocate the parishes within it to the care of the neighbouring Pastoral Areas.
With effect from the 1st of October the following changes will therefore take effect:
The parishes of The Holy Family (Platt Bridge), Saint Benedict (Hindley), Our Lady Immaculate (Bryn), Saint Wilfrid (Ashton) and Saint Oswald & Saint Edmund Arrowsmith (Ashton) will move into the Wigan Pastoral Area;
The parishes of The Sacred Heart (Hindley Green), Saint Catherine of Sienna and All Saints (Golborne and Lowton) and Saint Lewis (Croft) will move into the Leigh Pastoral Area;
The three Newton-le-Willows parishes and English Martyrs (Haydock) will move into the St. Helens Pastoral Area.
For our two parishes this will mean that Father Tony remains as Parish Priest at Holy Family but, as from the 1st of October, he will cease to be Parish Priest of Sacred Heart, Hindley Green, which will move to the priests of the Leigh Pastoral Area. Deacon Ken and Father Strowbridge will continue to provide interim pastoral care for Sacred Heart Parish over the coming weeks, but inevitably there will be some changes at Sacred Heart in the near future