THE former Sacred Heart church at the Crescent in Limerick city is to get a new lease of life after it was bought by a community of young priests.
Six years after it was last in operation, the iconic city centre building is expected to back in use by the end of next month.
This comes after the Institute of Christ the King, a community of priests, paid just €700,000 for the protected structure.
When the site was last on the market in 2006, it had an asking price of €4m. Developer John O’Dolan’s plans for the site included a leisure centre, and a bar. But now the building is to go back to its original use.
The community is led by 38-year-old priest, Canon Wulfran Lebocq, who has lived near Kilmallock since 2010.
He said they have been working on the deal for the last year, and met the asking price “with the help of numerous friends from Ireland, the United States and Continental Europe.”
The community of priests has an average of age of just 32, and for the time being, the Jesuit’s Church will be used as their chapel.
However, it is hoped that eventually the church will re-open to the public.
The building measures 25,000 square feet overall, and is split into the church area, a Georgian living space, and an enclosed garden.
Canon Lebocq added because the church has stood vacant for six years, and was in danger of falling into ruin, there was a willingness to help.
The institute is Roman Catholic in tradition, and the 64 priests who serve under it work all over the world.
It follows the spirituality of St Francis de Sales, which is expressed in the motto of the Institute: Live the truth in Charity.
Canon Lebocq emphasised his hope the “architectural jewel” could work as a centre that everyone can use.
“We truly desire 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 come alive in Limerick,” he said.
Pat Kearney, managing director of the selling agent Rooney’s, said the sale will “breathe new life” into the area.
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