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Archbishop Calls for New Evangelisation in Catholic Education at Major Conference Hosted at Mary Immaculate College

"We seem to exist in a multiplicity of egos which have no awareness of the emptiness with which they are full."

These were the words of leading Italian theologian, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, at a major conference hosted by the Department of Theology & Religious Studies (TRS) at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick today. The theme of the conference, the fourth in the McAuley Conference series, was Catholic Education and the New Evangelisation.

This one-day symposium, which was attended by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles J. Brown, on his first official visit to Limerick, considered Pope Benedict’s initiative for the renewal of faith in Europe, under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation, and its implications for Catholic Education in Ireland.

Conference Convenor and Lecturer with the TRS Department at Mary Immaculate College, Dr Eugene Duffy, said, "It is the Pope’s hope that the new Pontifical Council will ‘promote a renewed evangelisation’ in countries where the Church has long existed ‘but which are living a progressive secularisation of society and a sort of ‘eclipse of the sense of God’. Ireland now falls into this category, as even most recent events make clear. This timely conference will explore realistic ways in which this project can inform the second-level Catholic Education context in Ireland."

Calling for an alliance between the protagonists on the educational scene in Ireland, Archbishop Fisichella, who was appointed by the Pope as the first President of the newly constituted Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation stated: "We cannot hide from the fact that a permanent materialistic mentality leads to the cultivation of selected practical abilities rather than helping the mind to develop its critical faculties…We are all part of this world, this society and for better or worse, we all share some responsibility for the present situation – all of us!"

As well as Archbishop Rino Fisichella, speakers included: Dr Eugene Duffy; Dr Gareth Byrne, Head of Religious Education at Mater Dei Institute of Education and Principal Writer of Share the Good News: National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland; Sr Marie Céline Clegg IBNM, former Principal of Loreto College, Swords, and now a member the Board of Directors of Loreto Education Trust, with particular responsibility for Boards of Management and the provision of a support service for Loreto schools; acclaimed speaker and writer Dr Ron Nuzzi, Director of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program in the Alliance for the Catholic Education at the University of Notre Dame and Dr Kerry Greer, founding member of the Psychology Department at MIC.

While considering Catholic Education broadly, the conference was intended to be of particular interest to second-level teachers, principals, members of boards of management, trustees and patrons, among others. Discussions and reflections were facilitated throughout the day allowing participants the opportunity to engage with the speakers. Opportunities were also provided to discuss and explore ways in which to support and develop the Catholic ethos within the second-level sector.

Also speaking at the Conference, Prof. Michael A Hayes, President of Mary Immaculate College, said, "We are at a period of time where the shadow of indifference is looming heavily over parts of Europe. This makes the role of Catholic Education even more important than ever for it offers a world-view of great hope and assurance. It is the place where the individual is celebrated as having a dignity created by God and a call to flourish in the world. In this Catholic College we prepare students not just for successful careers but also for flourishing lives."

The conference was part-funded by the St Stephen’s Green Trust (a funding agency for Catholic charities), The Tablet (a UK-based weekly Catholic newspaper) and The Pastoral Review (an international pastoral journal).

It was hosted in association with the MA in Christian Leadership in Education, a two year programme offered by the TRS Department at MIC in association with CEIST (Catholic Education, an Irish Schools Trust), which comprises five Catholic Religious Congregations engaged in post primary education (Daughters of Charity, Presentation Sisters, Sisters of the Christian Retreat, Sisters of Mercy, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart). The programme, which is also being subsidised by the St Stephen’s Green Trust, which provides a sponsorship of €2000 over the two years, will lead to a professional qualification with a strong theology component for those working in the education sector such as school principals, members of boards of management, members of trusts established by the various denominational bodies in Ireland, etc. Applications for this programme are currently being invited. Full details available here.

Following the event, the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, commented, “It was a privilege and a pleasure for me to take part in the Conference on Catholic Education and the New Evangelisation at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick.  The presentations by the speakers were excellent.  The entire event illustrated how Mary Immaculate College is taking a leading role in addressing the question of how best to provide Catholic education in Ireland today.”

 

Leading Italian theologian, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the first President of the newly constituted Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation, with Prof. Michael A Hayes, President of MIC, at today’s Symposium.

Prof. Eamonn Conway, Head of the Dept of Theology & Religious Studies (TRS) at MIC; His Excellency, Archbishop Charles Brown, Papal Nuncio; Prof. Michael A Hayes, President of Mary Immaculate College; His Excellency, Archbishop Rino Fisichella; Rev. Anthony Mullins, Chair of Mary Immaculate College Trustees & Governing Bod; Dr Ron Nuzzi, Alliance for Catholic Education, University of Notre Dame and Dr Eugene Duffy, Conference Convenor and Lecturer in TRS at MIC

Dr Eugene Duffy, Conference Convenor and Lecturer in TRS at MIC; His Excellency, Archbishop Charles Brown, Papal Nuncio and Rev. Anthony Mullins, Chair of Mary Immaculate College Trustees & Governing Body

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