Foreign priests are keeping the churches in Wales open, according to the Bishop of Wrexham.

“The diocese is becoming increasingly dependent on overseas priests,” Bishop Peter Brignall told the BBC.

“We have fewer of our own priests and those are ageing significantly. And, therefore, if we are to continue anything like the present model of the Church in north Wales, then we are going to need men from overseas,” he said.

The majority of Wrexham’s active priests are from overseas. The diocese has 45 priests in all, but 10 of those are retired. Of the remaining 35, 16 are diocesan priests but 19 are from different orders.

The Apostles of Jesus, Missionaries of Africa and Missionaries of St Paul are from Africa, mainly from Nigeria; the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate are Indian; the Vocationist Fathers are mainly Italian. In addition there are priests from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Society of Christ, Capuchin Franciscans and Jesuits.

“Twenty years ago most of our priests were Irish,” a spokesman for the diocese told the Catholic Herald. “Ten years ago the missionary priests started to come in.”

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