THE JESUITS arc to go from the Lowe House parish in St Helens after nearly 200 years. The Jesuit Provincial, Fr William Maher announced the move this week after consulting with headquarters in Rome and Archbishop Worlock of Liverpool.
The Jesuits are withdrawing because of their falling numbers and because the parish needs have changed. The diocese is to take charge of the parish and the new parish priest will be Fr Vincent Hughes who has been in Peru for 14 years.
Bishop Kevin O'Connor, an Auxiliary of Liverpool will also live at the parish house to be in touch with the people of the area.
From September the parish staff will consist of the present parish priest, Fr Francis Walsh Si, Fr Thomas Leigh the Archdiocese Vocations Director and Fr David Melly who is on the Archdiocese Christian Education Centre.
A month later they will be joined by Fr Richard Sloan, chaplain to the John Rigby Sixth Form College, Fr Hughes will take over his duties before Easter 1981. Fr Walsh who has been at St Mary's Lowe House for more than three years said that it was clearly sad for the Society to move after so long.
"Jesuits are by vocation pioneers," he added. "Parish work is not fundamentally what the Society was founded for. When the church in St Helen's was founded in the 18th century, it was before Catholic emancipation, Now there are 15 Catholic parishes in the town."
Fr Walsh admitted that the people in the parish were very upset as they had never known anyone other than Jesuits there. In recent years the parish has dwindled from 5,000 to 1,700.
Archbishop Worlock has made known his gratitude to the Jesuits and says that he hopes parishioners will understand the unselfish desire of the Society to spend its efforts where needs are even more pressing.