Belfast Telegraph

Former Belfast Presbyterian church bought by Catholic order

Fortwilliam and Macrory Presbyterian Church
Fortwilliam and Macrory Presbyterian Church

By Eimear McGovern

A former Belfast landmark Presbyterian church has been bought by a Catholic order after it closed in October last year.

Fortwilliam and Macrory Presbyterian Church on the Antrim Road was recently purchased by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, which celebrates the Latin Mass.

Members of the institute have already moved in to the site saying it will reopen for Christian worship and faith with an emphasis on culture, sacred music and charitable events.

The listed building served as a place of worship for 133 years but a dwindling congregation meant keeping services running was no longer feasible.

The building's roots date to June 1880 when architects were invited to submit plans in a competition, with prizes of £30 for the winner and £10 for the runner-up.

The institute, which also has a base in Limerick, operates separately from the Diocese of Down and Connor and has been given permission from Bishop Noel Treanor to establish itself in the diocese.

It has 115 priests, 50 religious sisters who live a semi-cloistered life and 90 seminarians currently training for the priesthood at the international seminary at their institute in Florence, Italy.

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Fortwilliam and Macrory Presbyterian Church

The Institute of Christ the King celebrates the Latin Mass, also known as the Tridentine Mass, which was promoted 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," said a spokesperson.

The Latin Mass was restricted in many places until 2007 when Pope Benedict signed a universal indult, or permission, for priests to continue to celebrate the 1962 Latin Mass under certain conditions.

"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 spokesperson added

"The institute wishes to bring the uplifting beauty of sacred worship and genuine culture to all."

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