A SHORTAGE of priests and dwindling attendances at mass are driving changes at Catholic churches in West Fife.

Archbishop Leo Cushley is currently carrying out a review of future pastoral provision which is set to see parishes join together, however, it will not see the closure of any churches.

St Margaret’s in Dunfermline and Oakley’s Holy Name church will become one while St Peter in Chains in Inverkeithing, Rosyth’s St John and Columba and Our Lady of Lourdes in Dunfermline will also become one parish.

The changes – which haven’t yet been rubber-stamped – come after Archbishop Cushley began a review of churches in the St Andrews and Edinburgh diocese which was aimed at dealing with the reduction over recent years in the numbers of people attending Mass and the declining numbers of priests.

Extensive consultation has been taking place which evoked an openness to modifying parish structures but a resistance to the closure of churches.

Currently, there are already some joint resources among the West Fife churches with St Peter in Chains and St John and Columba sharing a priest and Holy Name and Our Lady of Lourdes doing the same.

It it not thought the changes will affect the number of masses taking place in each church.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh said Archbishop Cushley had made a proposal to the Catholic communities of West Fife with a view to creating “more sustainable local parishes that can flourish and grow” in the medium- to long-term.

“The Archbishop’s proposal, though, is just that – a proposal – with a final decision following in due course only after he receives further feedback from both priests and parishioners in the West Fife area,” added the spokesperson.