As of today, we can extend a warm ‘official’ welcome to our Parish of St Mary’s, Knaresborough, as its ownership is transferred from Ampleforth Abbey to the Diocese of Leeds!
Although since the foundation of the Diocese of Leeds in 1878, the Parish has geographically and canonically been within the Diocese, St Mary’s had been served by the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of Ampleforth since the late eighteenth century. The Abbey came to a mutual agreement with the Diocese and the formal transfer has now taken place.
In practice, the change of administration will not have any impact on the Parish or on Catholic life in Knaresborough. To ensure continuity, the Benedictine Community has made an agreement that the current Parish Priest, Fr William Wright OSB, will continue to serve St Mary’s for a further period of five years.
In explaining his decision to transfer St Mary’s Parish to the Diocese, the Prior Administrator of Ampleforth, Fr Gabriel Everitt OSB, has said that he is delighted that the Parish will play a part in the Diocese: ‘Benedictines have served in this area of North Yorkshire for over 300 years. The message still is Jesus Christ – the same yesterday, today and for ever. As we monks of Ampleforth Abbey hand over this Parish to the Diocese of Leeds, I pray that the love which is the result of 300 years of service will encourage us all to continue to spread the Gospel of Christ in today’s society.’
In accepting this gift from the Benedictines, the Bishop of Leeds, the Right Reverend Marcus Stock said: ‘A parish is the people, not the property. In every meaningful way, St Mary’s parishioners have always been full members of our diocesan family – except on paper. With this formal transfer, and the continuity provided by Fr William remaining as Parish Priest, St Mary’s will continue to play its important role in the life of our Diocese.’