A CATHOLIC church is due to hold its final service before it closes for good.

The last mass at St Columba in Tonge Moor will take place today at 5pm and will be celebrated by the bishop of Salford the Rev John Arnold and parish priest Canon Michael Cooke.

It was revealed earlier this year that the church in Ripley Street would close after the Diocese Of Salford carried out a review of parish structures.

Mr Arnold said: “I can understand sadness when a church is closed, but I know that the parishioners of St Columba will take their commitment and faith for their church into their new parishes and so make them stronger missionary parishes which is what we must be creating here in our diocese.”

After consultation following the review, it was decided to merge the parishes of St John The Evangelist in Bromley Cross, St Brandon in Harwood and St Columba.

The three will be amalgamated to form a new parish, which will be called Corpus Christi, Bolton.

Parishioners of St Columba will now join either the newly-formed parish or The Holy Infant and St Anthony parish in Astley Bridge.

The total number of parishes in Bolton will be reduced from 18 to 12 and the number of diocesan priests from 13 to 10.

The diocese needed to reform because there are fewer priests and people attending church.

Mr Cooke said: “Saturday’s mass will provide us with an opportunity to give thanks for all the years at St Columba. I would like to thank all those who have spent time organising the Mass Of Thanksgiving.

“I would also like to encourage all those with a connection to St Columba’s to join our celebration.”

According to a statement from the Diocese, the service will provide an opportunity for parishioners, both past and present, to celebrate the history of St Columba’s church and ‘come together as a community in worship’.

Pupils from St Columba’s Primary School will also take part in the service.

There will then be a chance for visitors to enjoy refreshments in the school hall.