Jesuit Church may be used for Traditional Latin Masses.

by Jennifer O'Connor, of the Limerick Leader

This article appeared in the "Limerick Leader"

Traditional Latin Masses could be offered at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Jesuit church on The Crescent if the order completes the planned move from the premises next June.

Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, exterior, interior

The Limerick Leader understands that there is at least one group from abroad willing to offer such Masses, but they are waiting on the go-ahead from Church authorities to officially announce their interest.

The Tridentine Mass was given official status within the Church in 1984* (see footnote) when Pope John Paul II issued the motu proprio, Ecclesia Dei.

Fr. Dermot Murray SJ confirmed this week that he had heard rumours of interest by groups in the Church.

"I have heard rumours and know that there are groups who say Latin Masses, but I don't know if they will take over the church - that's a possibility," he said.

He said that factors such as the number of churches in the area, diminishing congregations and fewer vocations had all contributed to the decision to close the church.

"The decision has been taken, and we would like to carry it through with the least amount of sadness possible," Fr. Murray said.

The news that another religious group might take over the church should ease the anxiety of churchgoers who have expressed fears that the premisies could be used as a business or entertainment centre should it be left in the hands of a non-religious group.

"Limerick is the bedrock of the Jesuits. The Jesuits are deep inside the hearts of the people of Limerick. It's the nicest sanctuary, not only in Limerick, but in Munster. To think that one day it could be reduced to nothing is terrible," said John Leonard.

Mr. Leonard is part of a group of local campaigners who have urged people to show solidarity with the church in the hope that the closure decision will be reversed.

"Next year is the 450th anniversary of the death of St. Ignatius in 1556 and also the 500th anniversary of the birth of Francis Xavier and Peter Faber. It is ironic that they are looking to close in a year of celebration," said Mr Leonard.

"There are about 21,000 Jesuits in 128 countries. Surely they could bring in someone from another country to help in the church? We have sent priests and missionaries all over the world, why can't they send someone here?" he asked.

A notice was issued to the congregation last April that the church, which was built in 1868 and was the first church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, would be closed.

"We have to ensure that older Jesuits are not over-burdened with the administration of large churches and buildings which can just become too much to bear," wrote Jesuit Provincial Fr. John Dardis in the notice.

Citing reasons such as the number of churches in the local area, Fr. Dardis said that a centre for spirituality, faith and culture would be opened in the Limerick area.

This article appeared in the "Limerick Leader", November 27th, 2005

Note: In 1984 Pope, John Paul II ruled that the traditional Latin Mass could be made available again to the faithful on request, though there were many restrictions. In 1988, due to the illicit episcopal consecrations perfomed by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Archbishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Tulle, France, and Bishop Antonio de Castro-Meyer, Bishop Emeritus of Campos, Brazil, His Holiness lifted all restrictions on the celebration of the old Rite, having decided that, due to the actions of Mons Lefebvre, there was an obvious and urgent need for the faithful to have access to the old Liturgy. He issued this decree of his own free will (Motu Proprio) and called on the world's bishops to be generous in their application of this so-called indult. This indult is known by the first three words of its Latin text, "Ecclesia Dei Adflicta". The previous indult of 1984 was known as "Quattuor Abhinc Annos".