A Manchester parish priest is raising money to turn his large presbytery into a community centre in a downsizing inspired by Pope Francis.
Fr Andrew Stringfellow of Sacred Heart and St Francis of Assisi, Gorton, is seeking £15,000 on the website Crowdfunder to help convert what he describes as the “biggest house in the parish”.
His plan is to move into a small flat upstairs and turn the rest of the presbytery into public areas for meetings and seminars. A communal kitchen will also be added.
In a video appeal Fr Stringfellow explains that the house was built in 1907 for three priests and two housekeepers. “And now there’s just me,” he says.
Gorton, he says, is “one of the most socially deprived areas in the country. What we are trying to do is respond to that by reaching out to people and help to raise their aspirations and let them know that we care about them.”
The inner city parish already has a garden “transformed from wasteland” where food and flowers are grown, a café run by people with special educational needs and a recording studio.
In a letter to the parish Fr Stringfellow said: “It doesn’t feel right that the priest should live in the biggest house in the parish so we have to look at how we can use this great asset better.”
At the time of writing Fr Stringfellow had raised half of the £15,000 with only seven days left on the appeal.The overall cost of the project will be £47,000.
The appeal has already had support on Twitter from Michelle McKenna, a singer in the pop group Platnum, who said he was doing “amazing work”.
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