Friday, August 24, 2012

Old Jesuit Church Taken Over by Traditionalist Order in Ireland

Edit: Sacred Heart in Limmerick was once a church run by the declining Jesuit order. Other orders, however, are growing and in a very symbolic way, the Institute of Christ the King is taking over the old church and restoring it to its proper use. Here we cite from Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association:

The prior of the Church of the Sacred Heart is a 38 year-old priest, Canon Wulfran Lebocq, choir-master of the Institute and permanently resident in the diocese since 2010. For the time being, the community in Limerick is composed of four members, whose average age is 32.

In Limerick, the Institute of Christ the King, supported by many local residents and a large group of friends in Ireland and abroad, intends to restore the Church of the Sacred Heart to its original purpose as a vibrant spiritual and cultural centre and a beautiful place of worship through a dynamic and open community life as a spiritual family. However, this will require a careful historical restoration before the Church may be opened once again to the greater public.
The Institute of Christ the King celebrates the classical Roman Liturgy, the Latin Mass, in its Extraordinary Form according to the liturgical books promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1962. This liturgy, promoted by Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in various documents, attracts today an ever greater number of people, especially young adults, students and families. The Institute is accustomed to see a lively family of faithful in its churches and wishes to bring the uplifting beauty of sacrality and genuine culture to all.

This beautiful church at the Crescent is still today a special architectural jewel, and many deplored its closing and long-term vacancy. The Institute of Christ the King, which has a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly desires to reopen this church for the benefit of all, in close collaboration with the local civil and ecclesiastical authorities. In this way, yet another sign of a brighter future will again come alive in Limerick.

Link to Conleth Catholic Heritage Association website...

 Here's a video and brief description complete with shots of the church:
This iconic building is situated at the Crescent, on O'Connell Street, Limerick, and was completed in 1868 and opened for public worship on January 27th 1869. The architect was William Corbett and the church is in the parish of St Joseph's. According to some reports, it was originally intended to be dedicated to St. Aloysius but when it was formally dedicated in 1869 it was called the 'Church of the Sacred Heart'. 
The façade of the church is Classical/Grecian in design and was renovated in 1900. There are no aisles in the church but the nave had two rows of pews. The nave was extended in 1919. The ceiling of the church is panelled with floriated ornaments in Stucco work. The high altar was designed by William Corbett and is made from 22 types of precious marble. On the floor around the high altar, there are the symbols of the four writers of the Gospels. The angel represents Matthew, the lion represents Mark while Luke and John are represented by the bull and eagle respectively. Some of the stained glass windows throughout the church show the letters 'IHS'. These letters are the first three letters of the Greek word for Jesus which is IHSOUS. In Latin the letters stand for Jesus hominum salvator which translates as 'Jesus, Saviour of men'. There are nine mosaics above the high altar. 
The central mosaic is of the Sacred Heart ascending in the presence of St Margaret Mary Alacoque and Blessed Claude la Colombiere. It is surrounded (from left to right) by depictions of St Francis Jerome, St Francis Borgia, St Francis Xavier, St Ignatius, St Stanislaus, St Aloysius, St John Berchmans and St Francis Regis. 
Sadly, the church (& residence) formally closed in 2006 and is currently for sale - again!


schmenz said...

I'm glad to see this.

But my dear Irish friends: be prepared for never-ending, non-stop, wall-to-wall organ music during your Institute Masses. Maybe you can all purchase ear plugs! (smile)

Thom said...

I remember seeing this video several years back I believe. I was so saddened (almost to tears) at hearing the awful future that lay in store for God's house. With the music I could almost hear the joyous and busy sounds that once filled the rooms, residences and the church proper... only to be silenced by the grim reality of a church in pain, losing her faithful. But no! God has other plans! This is a testament to the return of Holy Mother Church to bring to her children traditional Catholic teaching and worship. Blessed be God.

Jack B. said...

More information about the Institute in Ireland can be found at

Schmenz, if you brought ear-plugs to Mass, you wouldn't be able to hear the organ and defeat the purpose of a High Mass. One who doesn't appreciate fine music would be best suited to attend a Low Mass.

schmenz said...

Thank you, Jack.

Actually it is because I appreciate fine music that I bemoan the rather odd musical illiteracy of the Institute. Not all of their priests are tone deaf, of course, but a surprising number of them are. They have a well-deserved reputation for taking over a church and promptly turning great choirs into mediocre ones. Why this is, I cannot say.

Your last sentence was both ironic and amusing since the Low Mass I attend, which is offered by the Institute, has unending wall-to-wall organ music from before Mass begins to well after it ends. The only moment of silence we suffering Catholics are permitted is a couple of minutes during the Elevation.

I used to attend the High Mass there, with a choir so expert that one thought one was actually in Heaven. But the new Institute priest promptly disbanded this 45 year old choir and replaced it with an inept conductor and some highly untrained singers.

After being appalled by the dreadful downturn in the musical quality I started attending the Low Mass...only to have this damned organ going nonstop. We can't win.

The Institute is a fine organization, and they say their Masses beautifully, but their musical acumen is nil.

Tancred said...

Thank you for this. Just out of curiosity, would this choir have been replaced by a chant scholar by any chance?

servo said...

I used to go to a regular old diocesan Indult that would on occasion play the organ throughout the entire Mass. It was extremely grating.

Andre said...

That's right, you Irish like no music...

Anonymous said...

When is the church going to be fully open again to the public

Tancred said...

Good question, the site that reported it is currently not posting much, but I'll keep a lookout.