A PORT Glasgow church which has been at the heart of the community for 60 years is ready to celebrate the anniversary.

The iconic, modernist brick and glass building of Holy Family in Parkhill Avenue was built in 1959 by a visionary architects Gillespie, Kidd and Coia.

It is believed that the huge church with bell tower and presbytery was built to accommodate a parish which reportedly grew to 5,000 by the 1950s.

Father Opara Chima Kingsley, known as Father Chima came to the parish six months ago from St Fillan's in Houston, Renfrewshire.

He arrived in Scotland almost two years ago from Nigeria to help with the shortage of priests - and says he is happy in Scotland despite the weather and cultural differences.

He said: "I have found the people in Port Glasgow to be very friendly and welcoming.

"I came to Scotland as part of my missionary work and I was invited to help with pastoral engagement and works.

"The main difference between the people here and back home is the culture.

"At home people sing and dance during mass, here people are very quiet, more reserved."

The parish dates back to 1946 following the growth of post-war housing in Woodhall.

Before the new building was erected people worshipped in a large wooden hut which had been part of the HMS Monk naval accommodation.

The church was with an attached presbytery and school which was later demolished.

It has suffered from declining membership, partly due to the demolition of houses at Woodhall and an ageing congregation who can no longer walk up the steep hill and stairs to church.

Father Chima said: "It used to be the largest parish in Port Glasgow and had five priests, now it is the smallest.

"We have lost parishioners to St Francis' and St John's, which are more accessible."

However, up to 400 devoted parishioners regularly attend mass and Father Chima is keen to use the anniversary as a platform to encourage more, especially younger people, to come to church.

He said: "The church opened on December 20 1959 and the feast day of the Holy Family is on the 29th December, so we have decided to hold a special mass on the 29th and as we are in the Christmas season it is a triple celebration."

Bishop John Keenan will be the main celebrant at the mass.

Father Chima said: "We would like to invite all members past and present to come along and also from other churches to join our celebration.

"Everyone is welcome.

"I would also encourage more young people to come along to the church, they are the future.

"Older people in the parish are doing their very best but they will not always be here.

"We need people to breathe life into the church and take it forward."

The mass will be held at 11am on December 29.

External Pictures by Canmore National Record of the Historic Environment