THE Dominican Order has confirmed that it has “no timetable in place” on a departure from Limerick city.
The Order announced its intention to withdraw from Limerick in September of last year, but a spokesman said this week that no fixed plan was in place.
“The position is that consultations are under way as to what is the best way to proceed, and that there is no timetable in place,” said Fr Bernard Treacy this week.
The Dominicans, based in Limerick in nearly 800 years, cited “falling numbers of friars” to staff its commitments as the reason for the withdrawal from a number of locations, including St Saviour’s on Glentworth Street, in September.
The move, it is understood, also has wider implications for the biblical institute located on Dominic Street, which is attached to the church.
The Limerick Leader revealed at the time that the Order was to begin a process of “re-organising our commitments in Ireland”, a move it confirmed would include a withdrawal from Limerick.
Speaking when the move was confirmed, Bishop Brendan Leahy expressed his “personal sadness” at the decision taken by the Dominicans, who he said had “made an immense contribution to faith in Limerick over the past 800 years”.
He said he understood “the reasons behind this as Dominican clergy numbers have declined dramatically in recent decades.
“At Diocesan level we are also faced with significant challenges by the fall in clergy numbers and have begun the process of trying to manage this for the years ahead as priests cannot continue to provide the level of services they traditionally have across the diocese,” explained Bishop Leahy.
Speaking at the time of the announcement, Fr Treacy said “the next step is to work out the phasing, the timings, the methods, the procedures.
“I suppose religious orders have been in denial about the problem of numbers and the decision, once we faced up to it and addressed the actual practical implications, we felt that the honest thing was to say that.
“We announced that we were facing up to the problem before we had done anything about what the next steps might be,” he said.
There are three priests based at St Saviour’s Church in Limerick and it is thought unlikely that the Diocese will take control of the building given the proliferation of churches in the city and its environs, meaning it faces an uncertain future once the Dominicans withdraw. However, it is clear that it is yet to be decided when that will happen.