Monks sever more ties with Preston area as priest is recalled to Ampleforth Abbey after 15 years

Our Lady and St Gerard's Church in Lostock Hall will be under new management
Our Lady and St Gerard's Church in Lostock Hall will be under new management
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Benedictine monks are to sever more historic ties with Lancashire next month when they hand over another Catholic parish to the Bishop of Salford.

Our Lady and St Gerard’s Church in Lostock Hall will lose its parish priest before Christmas when Fr Xavier Ho returns to Ampleforth Abbey after 15 years.

The monastic order has announced it can no longer serve St Gerard’s due to staff shortages and so the parish will join the Salford Diocese, following in the footsteps of its neighbour St Mary’s in Bamber Bridge two years ago.

Fr Xavier, who hails from Vietnam, is going back to the monastery in North Yorkshire.

A statement from the Bishop of Salford, the Rt Rev John Arnold said: “Fr Xavier has faithfully served St Gerard’s for 15 years and, following some discussions in recent days, it has been decided that the time has come for him to return to the monastic community at Ampleforth.

"We wish to thank Fr Xavier very much for the time he has served the parish.”

Ampleforth announced in 2011 that when the time came for Fr Xavier to return the parish would no longer be served by the Benedictine Community.

It will join the diocese on January 1, although the handover will be at a special service on December 9.

Fr Mark Harold, of St Mary’s, will become parish priest of both churches, assisted at St Gerard’s by Fr Joseph Gee.

St Gerard’s is the latest parish to be handed over to dioceses by the Benedictine Order as it strives to keep a strong monastic presence at Ampleforth where numbers have fallen from 169 monks in the 1960s to just 55.