Almost a thousand people attended the farewell Mass of the Jesuits in the Sacred Heart Church, Limerick. It was a milestone event in the long history of the Jesuits in that city – the end of one era and the beginning of another, writes Dermot Roantree.
More than 900 people turned out for a farewell Mass in the Sacred Heart Church, Limerick, on Friday, June 30. It was a poignant occasion, marking the end of nearly 150 years of the Jesuits’ presence there. The chief celebrant at the Mass was the Bishop of Limerick, Dr Donal Murray, and over thirty other priests from across the country concelebrated with him.
Addressing the congregation before the Mass began, Dr Murray paid tribute to the many years of service which the Jesuits have given to Limerick, and he commented that the “very sad” closure of the Church of the Sacred Heart might bring home to people the seriousness of the decline in religious vocations in Ireland. “It is very sad,” he said, “because this is a church that was so beloved by so many generations of Limerick people who have attended Mass and devotions here.”
A commemorative brochure was made available to everyone present. It contained a number of fine full-page photographs of the church and a brief history of the Jesuits in Limerick. An accompanying newsletter carried a series of articles which stressed the continued commitment of the Jesuits to the city, describing their ongoing work in Crescent College, in a new Spirituality Centre in Dooradoyle, and in the new head office of Jesuit Refugee Service Ireland, which will also be in Dooradoyle.