Lack of funding forces Limerick’s Dominican Biblical Institute to close

The Limerick-based Dominican Biblical Institute (DBI) is in the final stages of closure due a severe lack of funding since the financial crash. 

DBI Director Fr Gerard Norton OP has confirmed that the DBI board’s final meeting has taken place, the company has ceased trading and it is preparing to apply to be voluntarily struck off the Register of Companies within the next three months. 

High costs were central to the decision to close the DBI, Fr Norton explained. “The financial crash in 2008, together with a great difficulty in attracting financial sponsors from outside the Dominican Order were probably the most significant factors that led to a decision to withdraw funding,” he said. “Compared with the great needs of our times, a Dominican Biblical Institute is unlikely to be perceived as a popular charity.”

Explaining that the DBI’s final student intake has completed their Maynooth-validated diplomas, Fr Norton said “this closure was planned well over three years ago, and it has been carried out methodically with a core concern to honour all our obligations”.

Fr Norton’s predecessor, Fr Tom Brodie OP, resigned as moderator and director of the DBI in 2012 after serving three terms at the post. This coincided with his publication of Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus, in which he claimed Jesus Christ did not exist as an historical person and led the Irish Dominican province to direct him to withdraw from ministry and cease teaching and writing. In March 2014, an international commission found that the work was “imprudent and dangerous”, and the Master of the Order, Fr Bruno Cadoré confirmed that the sanctions already imposed by the Irish Province should remain in place.

The closure of the DBI, which was formally established in 2007, is the latest in a series of high profile closures of religious-owned centres of education, following 2011’s effective closure of the Jesuits’ Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy and the recent sale of the Vincentians’ All Hallow’s College in Drumcondra.