Imagining the future: A diocese in north east England takes the collapse in clergy numbers as an opportunity for renewal

12 July 2017 | by Jim O'Keefe

New models for the local Church


In 2012, after more than 200 years of service, Ushaw College, that magnificent campus of historic buildings outside Durham, ceased to train men for the Catholic priesthood. The story of the Christian faith in the far north-east of England has been one change and decay, turbulence and revival.

Can Catholics deepen their faith even as the Church appears to be shrinking in size and losing confidence? It’s a question the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle is currently attempting to address. Three years ago, on 16 July 2014, the bishop, Séamus Cunningham, announced what appeared to some to be an audacious programme, not of rescue and survival, but of development and renewal.

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