The last mass at the Church of Our Lady and St Nectan was held on the feast of Christ the King, 21 November 2010. As is well known, Bishop Christopher announced on his visitation to the parish in June 2010 that the Catholic community at Hartland was no longer viable and that Sunday masses would cease. It was decided that mass would continue until the start of Advent. The months of October and November became part of a long farewell to the church.
It was fitting that the Fifth Sunday celebration of Hartland Churches Together on October 31st was scheduled for Our Lady and St Nectan's and we had a church packed to overflowing for it. A public mass of thanksgiving, to which everyone in Hartland was invited, was held on Thursday 11th November. We were delighted that Father Denis Collin was able to join Father Terry to concelebrate mass. Reverend Shirley Henderson, vicar of Hartland and Reverend Phil Greetham, Methodist minister in Hartland also took part in the service.
During 2011, arrangements have been made for the disposal of the church and its fittings. Some items have been brought to Bideford and others, such as the church benches, given as donations to various bodies. The vestment chest has gone to St Nectan's church at Stoke, along with the wooden statue of St Nectan, given originally in memory of Jenny West. The statue was formally installed on 17th June 2011, the feast of St Nectan and about 60 people gathered in the lady-chapel at Stoke for a service of celebration. Pat Hawkins undertook the task of removing the various bits and pieces from the church. John Bradbeer cut the grass around the church on several occasions during the summer.
The final act was the auction of the church and site held in Barnstaple on 6th September 2011. Several parishioners were present to witness the sale and the realisation of the sum of £156,000 as gross proceeds.
Father Terry continues to say a monthly mass on a Tuesday in Hartland for the village residents, most of whom now travel to Bude for Sunday mass. Other regular Hartland mass-goers attend Bideford. Hartland Churches Together continues, although the Catholic participation is now lower key than previously. As John Bradbeer has moved from Bucks Cross, the Catholic community of Hartland is represented on Churches Together by Barbara Davey.
Finally, I must acknowledge the great support of all the Christians in Hartland during this difficult and sad last year for the Church of Our Lady and St Nectan. We are all grateful for their concern, prayers and general goodwill. Thank you one and all.
(Information provided for Parish In Council Meeting October 2011)