AFTER almost 800 years with a presence in Limerick, the Dominicans are to withdraw from the city.
The decision was relayed by the Dominican Province that it is to “begin the process of withdrawing” from a number of locations, including Limerick, due to declining clergy numbers.
A statement confirming the decision by Prior Provincial Father Gregory Carroll was read at a number of Dominican Churches around the country on Sunday, but was not relayed at mass services in Limerick.
However, the decision to leave the city was confirmed locally to this newspaper.
Fr Brendan Clifford, one of just three priests in the Dominican community in Limerick - who have had a presence here since 1227 - confirmed that the decision to withdraw has been made and said that he expected “sadness” to greet the decision.
“There will of course (be sadness),” he said.
“If you are going to a church all your life - there are people coming in there 50 or 60 years. There is bound to be sadness, and Limerick has already had two experiences of that in recent times, the Franciscans and the Jesuits. It is hard that there is a third one falling on that.”
The statement by the Prior Provincial said that the Dominican friars “have embarked on a process of re-organising our commitments in Ireland in view of falling numbers of friars to staff these commitments and the ageing profile of our members”.
“The Irish Dominican friars have embarked on a process of re-organising our commitments in Ireland, in view of falling numbers of friars to staff these commitments and the ageing profile of our members,” it said.
The Order currently has 125 Dominicans, just 51 of whom are under the age of 65, while some are still in training and not all are in robust health.
The Prior Provincial said the “the purpose of the reorganisation is to help make the work of the 125 more effective”.
The statement confirms plans to concentrate development on other centres in Ireland, resulting in a “process of withdrawing” from a number of locations, including St Saviour’s in Limerick, St Magdalen’s, Drogheda, Leeson Park in Dublin, St Dominic’s, Athy and St Saviour’s, Ballybeg, Waterford.
“We are greatly saddened not to be able to maintain our presence indefinitely in all the centres where we serve,” said Fr Carroll.
A spokesperson for the Order said that “nothing will happen suddenly” and that consultation with the local community will take place before the withdrawal from St Saviour’s.