A group of nuns from Tennessee has made it possible for an iconic church in Limerick to remain open.

St Saviour’s Church on Glentworth Street was one of five Dominican communities marked for closure after the order’s Master General, Fr Bruno Cadoré, asked the Irish Dominicans to withdraw from some priories and reorganize commitments in view of falling numbers, IrishCatholic.ie reports.

Now, in August, four apostolic sisters from the Nashville-based Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia founded in 1860 will take over the church’s priory. It has been confirmed that priests will continue to say mass in the church.

The move will keep alive the Dominican order’s nearly 800-year association with Limerick. The ‘Order of Preachers,’ as they are called, arrived in Limerick in 1227. The order has been at Glenworth Street since 1815.

Fr Bernard Treacy OP, spokesman for the Irish province, said the idea to invite the American nuns to Limerick had come from Limerick’s Bishop Brendan Leahy.

Dr Leahy said he was surprised that the Nashville sisters were so eager to help him. 

“I got an immediate reply as the sisters came back to say they were interested in exploring the possibility,” he told the Limerick Leader.

Two of the sisters had visited the city last summer. 

“I think this is a wonderful development,” he said, describing it as “a sign of hope for us all.”

The order’s Prioress General, Mother Ann Marie, said that the “entire community is very excited about being part of the life of the Church in the Diocese of Limerick”, adding, “this is a gift and privilege for us,”

Fr Treacy said that the Irish Dominican province is happy the church will continue to serve the people of Limerick.

“Of course we are glad that the ministry will continue,” he said.