Iconic Limerick church opens to the public

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

THE notes of the organ filled the old Sacred Heart Church at the Crescent as its new owners opened the beautiful facility to the public.

THE notes of the organ filled the old Sacred Heart Church at the Crescent as its new owners opened the beautiful facility to the public.

It was the first time it has been opened to the public since 2009 - and the first time the organ has sounded out since it closed for use as a church in 2006.

The building was bought by the Institute of Christ the King, a group of young priests, led in Limerick by Canon Wulfran Lebocq.

They plan to celebrate the Mass in Latin there by Christmas. But they cannot begin to do this until they fill the Church with pews.

Most of the fittings of the Church were sold at auction in 2006.

However, French national Canon Lebocq, 38, said many people have begun to return items they bought.

“We have received some of the pews back. We have received some of the paintings back. But we are particularly looking for the brass sculptures which lay beside the altars,” he said.

Asked why he felt people were returning items, Canon Lebocq said it is because the purchasers had wanted to ensure they were protected from any future use of the building.

One of the uses mooted by the late Galway developer John O’Dolan was for it to be turned into a nightclub.

“I think they are willing to return them because they see the Church return to its original use,” Canon Lebocq added.

He admitted there is a big job of cleaning up, before the Church can be fully operational again.

Various leaks need to be addressed, the altar must be rebuilt, and central heating must be installed.

Although the group of priests bought the 25,000 square feet building for an estimated €700,000, it will require another €100,000 for further upgrades.

People returned to the building in their droves, and lit candles, to celebrate the fact the building was back open.

“I was very happy today to see how many candles were lit in such a short time,” he said.

“People are coming here to pray and thank God for this great haven for Limerick.

“We must reorganise many things. Everything that was here was sold - there was a big auction and there was no maintenance here for many years,” said the canon.

Founded in 1990, the Institute of Christ the King is a Catholic order with 64 priests worldwide who traditionally celebrate Mass in Latin.

Their purchase of the church has been welcomed by people across the county.