Following the recent closure of the Fortwilliam and Macrory Presbyterian church, in Belfast, Northern Ireland a young religious community has purchased this sacred building. The Presbyterian community received with joy and hope the offer made by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.
The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is, in turn, very grateful to the Elders and community at Fortwilliam and Macrory Presbyterian church for the opportunity to take over this sacred building, which will remain open for Christian Worship. The Institute also expresses its profound gratitude to His Lordship Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor, for the permission granted to the Institute to acquire this church.
This community will continue in Fortwilliam and Macrory Church a life of prayer and worship at the service of the People of God. They will reopen this church for Christian worship and faith with an emphasis on culture, sacred music, spiritual direction, days of recollection and charitable events. Founded in 1990, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is a Roman Catholic Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right in communion with the Holy See. The 115 priests of the Institute work across the globe to promote the spiritual Kingship of Christ. A special emphasis is laid on the harmony between faith and culture, and the young community has acquired a reputation for promoting the arts, especially sacred music and architecture.
The motherhouse and international seminary of the Institute of Christ the King is based in Florence, Italy, where 90 seminarians are training for the priesthood. It also has over 50 religious sisters, especially devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who live a semi-cloistered life and 17 oblates (lay brothers). Among these are several 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 naturally in 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 Sovereign Priest was invited to serve in Ireland, in the Diocese of Limerick, and established its headquarters there in 2006. The Pro-Provincial and Prior of Sacred Heart church in Limerick is Canon Lebocq who has been serving in Belfast once or twice a month since 2009. 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 cost of purchasing the Fortwilliam and Macrory church has been met by an interest free loan which the Institute of Christ the King will have to reimburse over the next five years.
The Institute wishes to bring the uplifting beauty of sacred worship and genuine culture to all. It 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 Canons of the Institute of Christ the King have a vast experience in working with the young. Schools, youth camps, days of recollection, musical training and many other activities are among the benefits they bring to the places where they work. Those who would like to know more about this important project for north Belfast can find further information either on their website (www.institute-christ-king.ie) or by visiting soon the community at Fortwilliam Macrory Church.