A CONSULTATION has begun on the future of St MacNissi’s Church and Hall in Newtownabbey.

Last weekend, the Parish of St Mary’s on the Hill, Glengormley initiated a process of consultation with parishioners over the future of the church and adjoining hall on Christine Road.

The future of the church is now in doubt given the diminishing availability of priests in the Diocese, the reduction in the number of Sunday Masses in the parish and that the attendance at Masses in the parish can be accommodated in St Bernard’s on the Antrim Road and St Mary’s on the Hill in Glengormley.

The parish has also been contacted, through Diocesan Property Advisors, by a developer who is interested in acquiring St MacNissi’s site for a residential development. 

A sale of the site would allow the parish to repay debts to the Diocese of £200,000 and give the parish some financial security for the future.

St Mary’s on the Hill parish say they have suffered a downturn of £30,000 in parish income for the second quarter of 2020, brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

At present, only St Bernard’s Church is open for Masses.

The parish has now been left with an important question of what to do with St MacNissi’s Church and Hall.

On the consultation, four options are given- do nothing, consider the costs of repairing and refurbishing the building (estimated at £25-30k), permanently close the building or other suggestions.

Parishioners are now being asked to submit their views on the consultation on the future of the church and hall site.

A spokesperson for Down and Connor said: “Following a full condition report and an appraisal of the pastoral needs of the parish, the parish has decided to put out to consultation a number of options in respect of the future of the Church and Hall.

“Details of the consultation and the various options are outlined within a Consultation Document which is accessible on the Parish website.

“This parish consultation will end on October 24 at 12 noon and parishioners can provide feedback either using the response sheet available on the parish website or directly through written submissions to the Parish Office.

“The parish would encourage as many parishioners as possible to take part in the consultation process.”