Northern Ireland's only training centre for priests to close

The only centre in Northern Ireland training Catholic seminarians for the priesthood is to close, church authorities have announced.

Thursday, 19th July 2018, 7:48 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th July 2018, 8:53 pm
Pope Benedict speaking with a newly ordained priest during a special Mass at the Vatican in 2006

St Malachy’s Seminary on Belfast’s Cliftonville Road has been the Down and Connor seminary since it was founded in 1833.

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When Queen’s University Belfast was founded in 1908, and the Department of Scholastic Philosophy established, it was arranged for the clerical students to also enrol as QUB students and to take degrees programmes before proceeding on to theological studies elsewhere.

In a statement on Thursday, the diocese said the closure decision had been taken “with a certain sadness,” and added: “The closure of the Department of Scholastic Philosophy at Queen’s University and, more recently, the progressive discontinuation of modules in scholastic philosophy on offer within QUB have placed a great strain on the required philosophical training of clerical students in Belfast as a prerequisite for theological studies.

“Consequently, after a period of consultation and discernment, it has been decided that St Malachy’s Seminary will cease forming students for the priesthood. From September 2018, all remaining seminarians will be relocated to other seminaries”.