Ardee Mercy Sisters Convent purchased by young Catholic community: the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.
In these challenging times for Ireland, there is great joy in Ardee, Co. Louth!
The former Convent of Mercy, vacated last year has new owners. A young Roman Catholic community, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, purchased the iconic building which comes with an attached chapel and gate lodge set in 10 acres of land.
The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest intends to use the former Mercy Convent as a convent for the the female branch of their order. The Sisters Adorers of the Royal Heart are semi-cloistered nuns. The first members will soon begin their community life in the footsteps of the Sisters of Mercy with daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the singing of the Divine Office in Gregorian chant. These young sisters will also prepare the convent so that the Institute African missionaries can find in Ardee a place where they can rest, pray and recover from their apostolic work in a much cooler climate.
The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest was invited to serve in Ireland, in the Diocese of Limerick, and established its headquarters there in 2006. The members of this Institute are also resident in the Diocese of Down and Connor (where in 2019 they reopened a former Presbyterian church in Belfast) and in Galway.
Canon Lebocq, Pro-Provincial of the Institute in Ireland, offered €925,000 to save this property, thanks in part to local donations, but especially with an excess of €600,000 loan.
He said: “Our community is now on its knees, not only in prayer in the chapel, but also financially with over €230,000 to reimburse by 15th August this year. Prayers and donations are welcome!”
Built in the mid-1850s, the convent was designed by John Neville, then County Surveyor for Louth. The three-storey block built of coursed rubble features cut limestone for quoins and window surrounds as well as for the three-bay, single-storey porch in Perpendicular style.
Founded in 1990, the Institute is a Roman-Catholic Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right in canonical form. The 125 priests of the Institute work all over the world to promote the spiritual Kingship of Christ. A special emphasis is laid on the harmony between faith and culture, and thus the young community has acquired a reputation for promoting the arts, especially sacred music and architecture.
The Institute of Christ the King celebrates the classical Roman Liturgy, the Latin Mass, in its Extraordinary Form according to the liturgical books promulgated by Saint Pope John XXIII in 1962. This liturgy, promoted by Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis in various documents, attracts today an increasing number of people, especially young adults, students and families.
The motherhouse and international seminary of the Institute of Christ the King is based in Florence, Italy. 105 seminarians are currently being trained for the priesthood. It also has over 60 religious sisters, especially devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who live a semi-cloistered life, and 19 oblates (lay brothers). Among these are nine Irish vocations.
The average age of this community’s members is 24 for seminarians, 28 for sisters, 41 for oblates and 39 for priests. The community has missions in Gabon (Africa) and important apostolates in the United States, England, France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Sweden and Rome, where their founder, Monsignor Gilles Wach, was ordained to the priesthood by Saint Pope John Paul II. The Vicar General of this community is at present Monsignor Michael Schmitz, who was ordained a priest by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger.
The Institute of Christ the King follows the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, which is expressed in the motto of the Institute: “Live the truth in charity,” and could be summarised in the famous quote of the Doctor of Charity:”Cook the truth in charity until it tastes sweet.”
The Institute also expresses its profound gratitude to His Grace Jude Okolo, Nuncio to Ireland and to His Grace Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh. They also thank in a special way His Excellency Matthew Madega, Bishop of Mouila in Gabon for his encouraging words to acquire a house in Ireland where the missionaries can come rest in a prayerful atmosphere.
No date has been set for any public opening and welcome to the Sister Adorers but a family already resides as caretakers on the alarmed premises.
Those who would like to know more about this important news for Ardee and for Ireland can find further information on their website (www.institute-christ-king.ie) or by subscribing to their newsletter.
Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
Ardee A92 F8FP