THE Catholic Bishop of Plymouth will formally bless the new grotto in the refurbished grounds of St Boniface Roman Catholic Church later this month.

Bishop Mark O’Toole from the Diocese of Plymouth will perform the blessing after celebrating mass at Okehampton’s Catholic church on Sunday, April 29.

The bishop will also bless the church’s new car park, aimed at alleviating traffic congestion at the junction of Station Road and Tors Road beside the church.

Afterwards he will join priest Father Darline, parishioners and guests, including Okehampton MP Mel Stride, for a buffet reception in the Pavilion in the Park.

The project has been more than two years in the planning, and was made possible by a generous donation from a benefactor among the congregation.

‘Father Darline and the parishioners are grateful to all the local residents, councillors and others that signed the petition supporting this venture and most of all the very kind benefactor who has turned a seemingly impossible dream into a reality,’ said spokesman Martin Perry.

‘We have always had a statue of Our Lady in the grounds, but we have a spectacular covered grotto now that looks lovely. One or two of the stones from the previous grotto have been incorporated into the design, and there’s a seating area for people to have a quiet moment or two.’

He added that the car park was much-needed to accommodate the church’s growing congregation.