WIRRAL parishioners are looking forward to returning to their “spiritual home” as a local church re-opens its doors.

And a "community of priests" is being considered with the aim of forming a foundation to ensure the church's future is secure.

Ss Peter and Paul’s, New Brighton, held its last service in August, 2008, to the anger and upset of church-goers who had been fighting to save the listed building.

But now - after almost three years of being left empty - weekly masses in the day chapel have been planned from next Friday.

And although the main church has yet to re-open fully, campaign leader Cath Nelson, said it is a step in the right direction and she is confident Ss Peter and Paul’s will be back full-time.

She said: “It is fantastic that we have come this far to have services being held in the day chapel again. I believe it is absolutely likely that the full church will re-open as soon as all the necessary repairs are carried out.

“Throughout the campaign, I have had tremendous support from the church committee and the congregation.

"These masses mean our local people will be back in their spiritual home once more but it should never have been closed anyway. We have achieved something that is amazing and everybody is delighted.”

The "Dome from Home" - the name given by returning sailors to the iconic church – was shut by the Diocese of Shrewsbury due to falling congregation numbers.

But campaigners from SOUL –Save Our Unique Landmark – vowed to fight on and even took the case to the Vatican.

And now they are hoping the church will be restored and ready to resume full services.

New Brighton councillor Tony Pritchard said the move to host weekly masses was “welcomed” by all those involved.

Cllr Pritchard said: “We fully welcome the decision to open the day chapel but there is still a lot of work to be done and talks to be had about the future of the church. "The main thing is that we want to thank all the people who supported us and contributed towards the campaign.”

A spokesman for the diocese said: “Following a decree of January 10 to merge the parishes of Ss Peter and Paul, New Brighton, and the English Martyrs parish, Wallasey Village, we can confirm that Father Philip Moor will be inducted as the parish priest of the new parish of The Holy Apostles and Martyrs on Tuesday March 1.

“The diocese can also confirm that one weekday Mass each week will be celebrated in the Day Chapel in the Church of Ss Peter and Paul, beginning from Friday March 4. This is solely on the personal initiative of the Rt Rev Mark Davies, the Bishop of Shrewsbury.

“The intentions of the Bishop were announced to the faithful of the two parishes in a letter of December 12 in which he reassured them of his wish to preserve the Church of Ss Peter and Paul.

“Bishop Davies has entered into discussions with English Heritage and the Church’s Patrimony Committee and is also exploring the possibility of a community of priests establishing a foundation at Ss Peter and Paul’s to promote Eucharistic devotion and to work for the restoration of the building.”