THE Franciscans are leaving their Waterford home. The three priests and one brother who live in the friary at Lady Lane will move to other houses.
Franciscan provincial, Fr Aidan McGrath, said the decision had been taken “with deep regret”. He said dwindling numbers, increasing age and illness had taken their toll and, like many other religious institutions, they were being forced to withdraw from many “cherished locations” including Waterford.
“For as long as it can be continued, it is intended that the friars in Clonmel will take charge of the Franciscan Church at Lady Lane and will maintain the sacred ministry. As for the friary itself, it is intended that this will become the residence of a religious order,” said Fr McGrath.
Waterford’s bishop, Dr Alphonsus Cullinan, said he had learned of the decision “with great sadness”.
He thanked the Franciscans for all they had contributed in 800 years in Waterford and said he would pray for an increase in vocations. In a statement, Fr McGrath said: “With deep regret, the Provincial Definitory of the Franciscans has decided that from the beginning of May 2019, there will no longer be a resident Franciscan presence in Waterford.
“Given the fact that one of the most illustrious members of the Order, Fr.Luke Wadding OFM, was a native of Waterford, this decision was not taken lightly or with any disregard for history.
“Many, many friars have lived in the present friary, ministering to the people in the confessional, from the pulpit, at the altar, and in the parlour. More recently, friars have also served as chaplains to the industrial estate and to Waterford University Hospital, as well as chaplains and teachers in the Regional Technical College (now WIT). All have happy memories of living and working in the city. To be noted also is the fact that the nationwide housing association, Respond! was founded by Fr. Pat Cogan OFM, a member of the Waterford fraternity.”