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Theology & Religious Studies

About

The Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Mary Immaculate College was founded in 1999. Along with a number of postgraduate programmes (taught and research), Theology and Religious Studies is offered on several of MIC’s undergraduate degree programmes (MI002, MI010 and MI011) in Limerick and Thurles. The department has seven full-time academic staff working on both MIC campuses as well as the main University of Limerick campus, all with international teaching and research expertise. They are supported by several part-time academic staff with specialisms in all the major areas of theological scholarship.

Apart from research undertaken on an individual basis by its staff members and research postgraduate students (MA/PhD), the TRS department has close links with research centres such as the Irish Institute for Pastoral Studies, which is based at MIC Thurles.

The TRS department also works closely with the Benedictine Abbey of Glenstal, and has many international links with prestigious Catholic universities throughout Europe (such as Leuven, Innsbruck) and in the United States of America (such as the University of Notre Dame)

Theology is perhaps one of the most exciting subjects one can study. The study of theology and religion entails an intellectual exploration of the belief systems that have played a vital role in the shaping of our world throughout the centuries. Human beings are in search of meaning, and an engagement with theology allows students to examine critically some of the most profound answers given to the most fundamental questions about life. 

Understood in the broadest sense, theology is an enquiry into the human conviction that life has ultimate meaning and worth. It is a rational and critical exploration of the human experiences of faith, hope, and love. One cannot be neutral about ultimate questions, and so theological enquiry usually takes place from the perspective of a particular believing community. Given that the majority of students at MIC are Christian in background, and given the College’s ethos, the focus of the theology programme is a critical and rigorously academic study of Christianity. However, the department recognises the increasing need for detailed theological study of other religious belief systems and endeavours to provide for this.

There is hardly any significant aspect of life or society that has not been affected by religion, for better or worse, and this alone already justifies a study of religion. If you are interested in history, sociology, or politics, you will come to understand the impact that religion has had in the past, and continues to have in the present. Similarly, if you are interested in architecture, music, literature, or the world of painting you will find that some of humanity’s most magnificent achievements are immediately linked to religion.

There are so many different exciting aspects to theology and the study of religion that it is difficult to think of another subject that covers such a diverse range of topics and ideas (see TRS Department flyer here).

TRS Research at MIC
Listen to TRS staff and postgraduate students speak about their research
Contact
Head of Department
Rev. Professor Eamonn Conway
+353 61 204353

Subject Overview

Undergraduate

The Department of Theology and Religious Studies offers a wide-ranging perspective on the phenomenon of religion, and Christianity in particular. It does so by drawing on a great number of sub-disciplines, such as philosophy of religion, historical theology, Christian ethics, pastoral theology, sacramental theology, ecclesiology and so on.

The programme is designed to ensure that all the requirements of the Teaching Council for the teaching of religion are met. Those taking primary teaching degrees can specialise in Theology and Religious Education.

No previous study of theology and religion, nor any particular denominational affiliation, is required to take TRS as an academic subject.

See below for a list of modules in the Bachelor of Arts programme in descending order from First Year onwards:

This module is to introduce students to the phenomenon of religion, and to the belief systems and foundational texts of the major world religions, and to engage students in a critical dialogue with the major world religions from within the perspective of the Christian tradition. The phenomenon of religion seen as a possible answer and challenge to the human search for meaning. The nature of religion, and the critiques levelled at it by authors such as Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. Introduction to some of the major world religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese traditions, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The world-views and ideas of each religion, and their foundational texts. Specific practices, and political and sociological implications of different religions. Inter-faith dialogue between Christianity and the major world religions

To provide students with an overview of Christian theology and some of its major themes. To engage students in a critical reflection on the nature of the theological disciplines. Introduction to Christian theology: its nature and history, and its various disciplines. The meaning of Divine Revelation. Faith and belief. The Scriptural basis of theology, including the origin and authority of the Bible. The Christian understanding of God as Trinity.

To introduce students to the foundations of Christian ethics, and to engage students in a critical reflection on the nature of moral theology. The nature of morality. The relationship between religion and ethics. The history and development of moral theology as a discipline. The sources and methods of moral theology, and its contemporary context. The role of the Bible in Christian ethics. The debate about whether or not there is a specific Christian morality. Human freedom, knowledge, moral responsibility, and the relationship between them. The concept of conscience. The natural law in tradition and today. The notion of sin in Scripture, tradition, and modern theological reflection.

To introduce students to theological reflection on Jesus of Nazareth.The distinctive character of the teaching of Jesus in its cultural and historical context. The various starting points for Christological study. The miracles and the parables and their role in Jesus’ proclamation of the Reign of God. The significance of the ministry, death and resurrection of Christ. The humanity and divinity of Christ: the development of Christological doctrine and the debate from the Council of Nicea to the present. D ifferent approaches to Christology today. Christ in inter-religious dialogue: the challenge of other religions and ideologies.

To enable students to gain an in-depth knowledge of one or two contemporary important theological problems. The focus varies from year to year. In recent times the lecturer has chosen to focus on christian faith in contemporary culture. The first part of the module clarifies students' understanding of christian faith, especially, what is meant by faith in general, the act and content of christian faith, the universal character of faith and its relationship to beliefs, and the situation of faith today. The second part of the module reflects on contemporary culture and the challenges and opportunities which consumerism, technology, secularisation and secularism present to christian faith. The third part of the module consists of some guest inputs on themes such as ecology, prayer in contemporary culture, God and violence, and martyrdom in contemporary religion.

To enable students to gain an appreciation of the New Testament in its historical and social context.To introduce students to the main themes of the Second Testament books and to develop methodological skills.The historical, geographical, and social background of the New Testament books. The origins, formation and transmission of the Second Testament. New Testament writings as rooted in the Old Testament and the Jewish tradition. The canon of the New Testament. The form and content of the First Testament books: the Synoptic Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Johannine Literature, and the Pauline Letters. Biblical methodology, and exegesis of key New Testament texts for their theological significance.

To examine the major themes involving the God-question from a Christian perspective thereby providing students with a solid grounding in some of the key issues in systematic theology. The Christian understanding of God. The origins, development, and the relevance of the doctrine of the Trinity. The problem of evil and theodicy. The atheist critique of faith and belief. The Christian understanding of eschatology. Writings of key thinkers from the patristic, medieval and modern eras as illustrating the manifold nature of the Christian understanding of God throughout the tradition.

Note: The following example is Church and State, morality and civil law. Other topics are possible, such as Bioethics, Just War Theory, Justice and Human Rights, Sexual Ethics and Virtue.

The New Testament and how the early Christians understood their relationship to civil society and the political authorities. The relationship between Christianity and the world, and the “autonomy” of secular matters. The nature and function of teaching authority in the Church, and its practical exercise in political and social matters. Conscience, religious freedom, the common good, and Church-State relations. Morality and civil law: Aquinas, the Hart Devlin debate, and recent theological reflection. The Christian as a public official and as a voter.

To enable students to gain an appreciation of the role of ritual and worship in Christianity.To provide students with a basic theological and historical knowledge of the Christian sacraments.The concepts of ritual and symbol. Liturgy and worship. The concept of sacramentality. Christ as the primordial sacrament of God, and the Church as a basic sacrament. Outline of the historical development and theology of the sacraments, with special emphasis on Baptism and Eucharist. Ecumenical and contemporary pastoral considerations concerning liturgy and the sacraments. Particular issues (e.g. the liturgical year, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, etc).

To introduce students to the ecclesial dimension of Christianity. The Biblical roots of ecclesial consciousness and the origins of the Christian Church. Survey of the main events in the history and life of the Church: pre-Constantinian Christianity; from Constantine to the East-West schism; the Reformation and the Council of Trent; Vatican I to Vatican II; the ecumenical movement; current and possible future developments. The nature of the Church and its marks. Models as a means of understanding ecclesiology. Salvation outside the Church. Ministries. Issues concerning ecclesial authority and structures. Special questions in ecclesiology.

Staff from TRS teach on the post-primary concurrent teacher education degrees (MI010: Business Studies and Religious Studies and MI011: Gaeilge and Religious Studies) on MIC, St Patrick’s Campus, Thurles. These programmes are accredited by the Teaching Council and graduates are qualified to teach Religious Studies to honours Leaving Certificate level after the completion of their four year degree programme.

See below for a list of TRS modules on the BA in Education (Post-Primary) programmes:  

To introduce students to the phenomenon of religion, and to the belief systems and foundational texts of the major world religions.To engage students in a critical dialogue with the major world religions from within the perspective of the Christian tradition. The phenomenon of religion seen as a possible answer and challenge to the human search for meaning. The nature of religion, and the critiques levelled at it by authors such as Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. Introduction to some of the major world religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese traditions, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The world-views and ideas of each religion, and their foundational texts. Specific practices, and political and sociological implications of different religions. Inter-faith dialogue between Christianity and the major world religions

To provide students with an overview of Christian theology and some of its major themes. To engage students in a critical reflection on the nature of the theological disciplines. Introduction to Christian theology: its nature and history, and its various disciplines. The meaning of Divine Revelation. Faith and belief. The Scriptural basis of theology, including the origin and authority of the Bible. The Christian understanding of God as Trinity.

To enable students to gain an appreciation of the Old Testament in its Ancient Near Eastern context. To introduce students to the main themes of the First Testament books and to the tools of Biblical criticism.The historical and geographical background of the Ancient Near East. The origins, formation and transmission of the First Testament. The canon of the Old Testament. Outline of the form and content of the First Testament books in their historical, literary and cultural contexts: the Torah, the Prophets, the Psalms and Wisdom Literature. Contemporary Biblical criticism. Application of exegetical methods to key Old Testament texts for their theological significance.  

To enable students to gain an appreciation of the New Testament in its historical and social context.To introduce students to the main themes of the Second Testament books and to develop methodological skills.The historical, geographical, and social background of the New Testament books. The origins, formation and transmission of the Second Testament. New Testament writings as rooted in the Old Testament and the Jewish tradition. The canon of the New Testament. The form and content of the First Testament books: the Synoptic Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Johannine Literature, and the Pauline Letters. Biblical methodology, and exegesis of key New Testament texts for their theological significance.

To introduce students to theological reflection on Jesus of Nazareth.The distinctive character of the teaching of Jesus in its cultural and historical context. The various starting points for Christological study. The miracles and the parables and their role in Jesus’ proclamation of the Reign of God. The significance of the ministry, death and resurrection of Christ. The humanity and divinity of Christ: the development of Christological doctrine and the debate from the Council of Nicea to the present. D ifferent approaches to Christology today. Christ in inter-religious dialogue: the challenge of other religions and ideologies.

To introduce students to the foundations of Christian ethics, and to engage students in a critical reflection on the nature of moral theology. The nature of morality. The relationship between religion and ethics. The history and development of moral theology as a discipline. The sources and methods of moral theology, and its contemporary context. The role of the Bible in Christian ethics. The debate about whether or not there is a specific Christian morality. Human freedom, knowledge, moral responsibility, and the relationship between them. The concept of conscience. The natural law in tradition and today. The notion of sin in Scripture, tradition, and modern theological reflection.

To examine the major themes involving the God-question from a Christian perspective thereby providing students with a solid grounding in some of the key issues in systematic theology. The Christian understanding of God. The origins, development, and the relevance of the doctrine of the Trinity. The problem of evil and theodicy. The atheist critique of faith and belief. The Christian understanding of eschatology. Writings of key thinkers from the patristic, medieval and modern eras as illustrating the manifold nature of the Christian understanding of God throughout the tradition.

The Nature and Purpose of Religious Education. Understanding the terms education, Religious Education, catechesis, evangelisation, and Christian Religious Education. The relationship between the nature of the human person and Religious Education. Diverse theories of Religious Education. Religious Education and the mission of the Church. Religious Education as catechesis and evangelisation. Religious Education as human development. Shared praxis and other approaches to Religious Education. Current challenges facing Religious  Education. Jesus as religious educator. Critical analysis of the certified Religious Education Syllabi.

To introduce students to the ecclesial dimension of Christianity. The Biblical roots of ecclesial consciousness and the origins of the Christian Church. Survey of the main events in the history and life of the Church: pre-Constantinian Christianity; from Constantine to the East-West schism; the Reformation and the Council of Trent; Vatican I to Vatican II; the ecumenical movement; current and possible future developments. The nature of the Church and its marks. Models as a means of understanding ecclesiology. Salvation outside the Church. Ministries. Issues concerning ecclesial authority and structures. Special questions in ecclesiology.

To enable students to gain an appreciation of the role of ritual and worship in Christianity. To provide students with a basic theological and historical knowledge of the Christian sacraments. The concepts of ritual and symbol. Liturgy and worship. The concept of sacramentality. Christ as the primordial sacrament of God, and the Church as a basic sacrament. Outline of the historical development and theology of the sacraments, with special emphasis on Baptism and Eucharist. Ecumenical and contemporary pastoral considerations concerning liturgy and the sacraments. Particular issues (e.g. the liturgical year, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, etc).

Note: The following example is Church and State, morality and civil law. Other topics are possible, such as Bioethics, Just War Theory, Justice and Human Rights, Sexual Ethics and Virtue.

The New Testament and how the early Christians understood their relationship to civil society and the political authorities. The relationship between Christianity and the world, and the “autonomy” of secular matters. The nature and function of teaching authority in the Church, and its practical exercise in political and social matters. Conscience, religious freedom, the common good, and Church-State relations. Morality and civil law: Aquinas, the Hart Devlin debate, and recent theological reflection. The Christian as a public official and as a voter.

Postgraduate

The Department of Theology and Religious Studies offers the following postgraduate programmes:

  • MA & PhD by Research and Thesis
  • MA in Christian Leadership in Education
  • Graduate Certificate in Christian Leadership in Education

In addition to various college awards and financial supports, postgraduate students may also be eligible for funding from the Bonaventure Trust, a private charity, which was founded a decade ago to support Catholic theology at Mary Immaculate College. Contact the Head of Department for further information.

For general research funding within the College, see the Research section.

MA & PhD by Research and Thesis

Staff of the Department of Theology & Religious Studies offer research supervision for both MA and PhD degrees by research and thesis.

Prospective students are invited to review the research interests and expertise of department members on the department homepage and contact the relevant staff member directly or else contact the Head of Department.

MA in Christian Leadership in Education

The MA in Christian Leadership in Education is an innovative postgraduate programme leading to a professional qualification. The programme will build much needed leadership capacity at both primary and secondary levels within the faith-based school sector.

The various modules in the programme will explore the following areas in depth:

  • Educational Leadership
  • Policy and Management
  • Scripture and Theology
  • Psychology and Leadership
  • Group Dynamics
  • Spirituality for schools
  • Learning and Curriculum
  • Liturgy and Sacraments within the school
  • Emotional and Relational Competence
  • Education and the Law
  • School Governance and Management
  • Issues of Social Justice in Education
  • Reflective Practice
  • Leading a Faith-based School in the 21st century

For more detail on this programme, click here.

Graduate Certificate in Christian Leadership in Education

This graduate certificate is designed to augment other qualifications participants may have achieved in areas of leadership and management so that they have the knowledge, competence and skills needed to lead a faith-based school.

The topics covered are the following:

  • Jesus the Teacher
  • Nurturing Personal Faith and Spirituality
  • The Catholic School and Contemporary Culture
  • Leading and Managing a Catholic School in Ireland Today

For more detail on this programme, click here.

Staff

Professor Eamonn Conway

BA (NUI), BD, STL, DD (Pontifical University Maynooth)
Head of Department, Theology & Religious Studies
  • Phone: +353 61 204353
  • Email: Eamonn.Conway@mic.ul.ie
  • Location: N2

Dr Patrick Connolly

BSc (NUI), BD, STL (Maynooth), JCL (Gregorian), JCD (St Paul) and PhD (Ottawa)
Assistant Registrar & Senior Lecturer
Office of the Registrar
  • Phone: +353 61 204575
  • Email: Patrick.Connolly@mic.ul.ie
  • Location: N26

Dr Eugene Duffy

BA (NUI); BD; STL (Maynooth) and DD (Milltown)
Lecturer
  • Phone: +353 61 204968
  • Email: Eugene.Duffy@mic.ul.ie
  • Location: N24

Fr Michael Wall

BA (NUI); BD and STL (Maynooth)
Lecturer & College Chaplain
Chaplaincy
  • Phone: +353 61 204331
  • Email: Michael.Wall@mic.ul.ie
  • Location: G48

Dr Jonathan Burroughs

BA (Theol.), MA (Theol.) & PhD (Maynooth)
Lecturer in Theology & Religious Studies
  • Phone: +353 504 20537
  • Email: Jonathan.Burroughs@mic.ul.ie
  • Location: 114

Dr Thomas Finegan

BTh (Maynooth); MA (UCD); PhD (TCD)
Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies
  • Phone: +353 504 20592
  • Email: Tom.Finegan@mic.ul.ie
  • Location: 112

TRS Department Administration

Administration for the Department of Theology & Religious Studies is handled by Deirdre Franklin in the MIC Arts Office.

T: +353 61 204507
E: Deirdre.Franklin@mic.ul.ie

Useful Information

PhD assistantship in Catholic Education

PhD Scholarship at the Department of Theology & Religious Studies

Specialism in Catholic Education

Mary Immaculate College Department of Theology & Religious Studies Assistantship

Closing date for applications: 1 May 2020         
Start date: September 2020 
Scholarship: The scholarship grant comprises a MIC assistantship plus a G.R.A.C.E scholarship. It will be for a stipend and fees of ca. €18,000 per annum for three years with a fee waiver for one further year of study. 

Supervisor(s) will be assigned in accordance with the specific area of dissertation research. The appointee will undertake her/his research as part of the G.R.A.C.E project (see below) to which s/he will provide administrative support in accordance with the terms and conditions of MIC department assistantships (120 hrs per academic year). Further information on MIC assistantships here.

Candidates should have or expect to gain a First or strong Upper Second-class degree in Theology & Religious Studies, Religious Education, Education generally, or other related disciplines. A related master’s degree would be an advantage. No teaching qualification is required. 

Letters of applications with full CV should be sent to Professor Eamonn Conway eamonn.conway@mic.ul.ie to whom all enquiries may be addressed. 

Professor Eamonn Conway
Mary Immaculate College - University of Limerick – 

South Circular Road
Limerick
Ireland
Tel: +353 61 204353
Email: eamonn.conway@mic.ul.ie 

Interviews for the doctoral position will take place in June 2019

The G.R.A.C.E Project

Global Researchers Advancing Catholic Theology (G.R.A.C.E)

UPDATE: Owing to the COVID-19 threat the Conference in Kylemore Abbey scheduled for this June has been postponed. We hope to have news in regard to the rescheduling of the conference by mid-May. Meanwhile, abstracts received will be processed and we will be looking at ways that we can sustain the momentum of the project in the interim.  

Introduction

Global Researchers Advancing Catholic Education (G.R.A.C.E) is an international research-based partnership between Mary Immaculate College Limerick, Ireland, the Roche Centre for Catholic Education, Boston College, United States, and the University of Notre Dame Fremantle, Australia. As an emerging community of practice (Wenger 2000), G.R.A.C.E provides an original opportunity for practioners, researchers and scholars of Catholic education in our respective countries to affirm, study, collaborate, and respond meaningfully to challenges we face in the field. Toward this end, our initiative:

  • Seeks a deeper study of ecclesiology and Christian anthropology and its significance for Catholic education
  • Pursues new theories of Catholic education based on empirical research
  • Strengthens a global argument for the importance of faith-based schools in a plural society
  • Attunes educators’ abilities to notice, engage, and celebrate the presence of God’s grace in the world

This partnership promotes research and learning to develop the head, heart, and hands of Catholic education.

Current Situation 

The actual relevance of Catholic education to life, society, and our global community is readily questioned today. It appears to many that belief in God has little to say to a search for ultimate meaning, purpose, and value and does not offer a credible vision for a way of life in a globalized and pluralistic world. By extension, education is simply a rational endeavor, a preparation for the ‘market economy’, offering an individual the necessary skills and aptitudes to contribute meaningfully in it. Such an approach has little to offer our looming sense of ecological disaster, a lack of global and local empathy, a growing coarseness in public discourse, a diminishment of responsibility and a shortage of imagination for an alternative future. 

Catholic Education 

Catholic education provides a way to ‘broaden the horizons of the common good, educating everyone to understand that we belong to one human family’ (Pope Francis 2018). Such a broadening is also to include future generations. Catholic education is to help with building up a common vision of whatever is essential and universal and so drawing people together, despite their differences. The Congregation for Catholic Education has referred to Catholic education as a way of realizing a familial humanism. It is an approach that means putting the students at the centre of education, their needs, their attitudes, and development. At the heart of this approach lies the a particular understanding of the human person. Everyone holds an innate capacity for goodness and for God. And through the Incarnation, that goodness is  reaffirmed, forging a covenant between divinity and humanity (Evangelii Gaudium, 3, 178). Therefore, the Incarnation means that whatever deepens, enriches and expands one’s humanity, whatever makes one more free, more imaginative, more creative, more intelligent and deepens the capacity to love is simultaneously an act of sanctification. Basically, whatever makes someone more human, makes them also more like God. The role of Catholic education then is to teach persons ways to notice, appreciate, and respond to this grace at work in their lives and help engage in meaningful dialogue and relationships with others.

A New Direction

Strengthening Catholic education in the current situation requires a creative, integrative response, a platform for thought-leaders, educators, theologians and researchers to gather, encounter and engage these tensions in new ways. Academic conferences have long been popular forums of sharing scholarship and voicing ideas. While these are respectable scholarly arenas in academia, their structure limits the ways in which participants can learn and engage together. 

G.R.A.C.E’s holistic approach seeks to foster a familial humanism among participants, emerging scholars and sages. Such relationships help participants notice and respond to the presence of grace, fostering both personal and professional transformation. Participants bring their scholarship and faith to bear on select themes and topics through round-table conversations, informal discourse, and reflective discussions. Gatherings take place every 18 months and are hosted by one of the three participating institutions: 

  • June 2020: Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Ireland
  • January 2022: Notre Dame, Fremantle, Australia
  • June 2023: Boston College, Massachusetts, United States

Outputs

G.R.A.C.E is designed to influence three domains of the field of Catholic education: 
1) cognitive--the theoretical and conceptual base of Catholic education; 
2) affective--the formative qualities and experiences that shape the Catholic educator and scholar; 
3) behavioural--the adoption of new understandings which influence the practice of being a Catholic educator and scholar in promoting social justice, while enhancing one’s capacity to foster a ‘culture of dialogue’ towards a global common good.

The cognitive domain is strengthened, in part, through the community’s persistent, critical and constructive engagement with points of tension in the provision of Catholic education, its commitment to ecumenical and interfaith collaboration, and its conviction for stronger, more persuasive arguments for the place of Catholic education in the public sphere. The product of efforts will be shared with the field in multiple ways, including peer reviewed journal articles, graduate coursework, teacher and head-teacher preparation and professional programs, and, in time, an international handbook on Catholic education.

G.R.A.C.E affects the formation of the scholar and educator, honouring the primary role of the Christian faith in the life of scholarship. Members will be encouraged to reflect on their spirituality and their work in integrated ways, to attune their abilities to notice and respond to the presence of grace in the world, and strengthen their ability to witness to the beauty, energy, and attractiveness of Christian faith. The members of G.R.A.C.E, formed in this way, will demonstrate a meaningful integration of scholarship and faith to the field of Catholic education. 

G.R.A.C.E contributes to the behavioural domain of the field of Catholic education by introducing new theories and structures to influence practice. Collaborative research, joint production of articles, and socializing across the community network will expand members’ capacity for strategic action with the state and other agencies, foster the promotion of social justice in the public arena, and prepare a pipeline of leaders, ready and responsible for Catholic education for the 21st century.

In these particular ways, G.R.A.C.E hosts a ‘culture of encounter’ (Pope Francis) where people gather, learn from and grow together to ensure the present and future Church.  

Links

Global Researchers Advancing Catholic Theology (G.R.A.C.E)

UPDATE: Owing to the COVID-19 threat the Conference in Kylemore Abbey scheduled for this June has been postponed. We hope to have news in regard to the rescheduling of the conference by mid-May. Meanwhile, abstracts received will be processed and we will be looking at ways that we can sustain the momentum of the project in the interim.  

Institutes

TRS department members have links with the following institutes:

Professional Associations

Staff of the TRS department are active members of the following professional associations: 

Academic Institutions/Bodies

The TRS department has links with the following academic institutions/bodies:

Other

The following are some useful resources:

Testimonials

TRS at Undergraduate Level
Listen to students and graduates speak about Theology and Religious Studies at MIC

What Students and Graduates say about Theology and Religious Studies at MIC...

"The Masters in Christian Leadership in Education (MACLE) provided a solid foundation for my PhD studies in the Theology and Religious Department in MIC. My PhD research focuses on the area of forgiveness and reconciliation in education for children. A major benefit of studying for a PhD in Theology and Religious Studies is that it has provided me with the opportunity to present at international conferences. I am also really fortunate to have two supervisors who are always readily accessible whether in person or by email.” Marie Raftery, PhD Student

“Studying Theology and Religious Studies has numerous advantages. The warm close knit community results in many social benefits, as after only a couple of weeks lecturers know students by first name as well as students knowing other students by first name. This creates a very good atmosphere and a very helpful learning environment.” Daniel Kelly, BA in Education (Post-Primary) Student

“I was quite apprehensive about studying Religious Studies in MIC, Thurles, but it has really exceeded my expectations. We get to study many interesting topics, from World Religions to Christology. It is both a challenging and rewarding process, and I look forward to teaching it in post-primary schools.” Kate Tormey, BA in Education (Post-Primary) Student

“Before studying Theology and Religious Studies in MIC, Thurles, I had no idea how fascinating it would be. I found particularly interesting the module Theology of the First Testament. This module gave me an opportunity to appreciate the origins and formation of the ancient Scripture. I intend to bring what I learnt in that module, actually all my TRS modules, to my teaching in post-primary schools.” Marguerite Gooney, BA in Education (Post-Primary) Student

“As part of my study of Theology at MIC, I was lucky enough to go on two Flame of Hope trips to India (January 2017 and January 2018). Only for Prof. Eamonn Conway and the TRS Department, I would not have had the opportunity to go to India and work in a school for mentally and physically disabled children.” Cian O'Brien, B Ed (Primary) Graduate

"My participation in a Flame of Hope trip to India provided me with great insight and knowledge for being a primary school teacher in a multicultural classroom.” Sarah O'Keeffe, B Ed (Primary) Graduate

“Studying Theology and Religious Studies at MIC enables you to reflect on Christianity and your faith. I found the TRS department a very welcoming place to dip back into my faith.” Brian Sheehy, BA in Liberal Arts Graduate

“I really enjoyed studying Theology at MIC. As well as exploring material in the different modules that are important for the various exams, this subject equips you with practical skills that you can apply to your own life. If you are interested in this subject, or even have a tiny spark of interest, then I would definitely recommend studying Theology at MIC.” Clodagh Cummins, BA in Liberal Arts Graduate

Blog

Update April 2020

 

Covid-19: How do you choose who gets treated in hospital first or who may not get treatment at all if there are insufficient resources in our hospitals? Here, Prof Martin Lintner, who teachers Christian Ethics in Brixen, Italy, addresses this very difficult issue. 

https://www.feinschwarz.net/c…

English translation will be posted shortly

 

A message for Students: TRS staff, full-time and part-time, are in regular contact with students throughout the semester, whether by email. MOODLE or the LAN. Students are asked to check their college email accounts regularly for updates and also the forum pages of their MOODLE pages. 

 

Please follow these links to see a new video reflection each day during Holy Week from TRS department members: 

https://www.facebook.com/IrishCathNews/videos/vb.125366140981/619406765310569/?type=2&theater

 

Here you will find a new article by Prof Eamonn Conway (April 2020)

https://www.intercommagazine.ie/the-key-to-ecological-conversion-fr-eamonn-conway/

 

 

PLEASE NOTE:  Owing to the COVID-19 threat the Conference in Kylemore Abbey scheduled for this June has been postponed. We hope to have news in regard to the rescheduling of the conference by mid-May. Meanwhile, abstracts received will be processed and we will be looking at ways that we can sustain the momentum of the project in the interim.  
 

 

 

 

 

Some Recent Publications by Department Members

(For full list of publications please consult staff profiles) 

Dr Tom Finegan has recently published an important article on the right to life in international human rights law. Click here.

Tom has also published “Conscientious Objection to Referrals”, Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (4) (2019): 277-79.

Dr Éamonn Fitzgibbon has published:

“Clericalization of the Laity: A Prescient Warning of Pope Francis for the Catholic Church in Ireland”, Irish Theological Quarterly, Vol. 85, Issue 1, (Feb. 2020), 16-34.

Dr Jonathan Burroughs has recently published:

 “Who Do You Think You Are? Matthew’s Genealogy (Matt 1:1-17).” Reality (December 2019): 26-29.

 “Caught in a Bind: Experiencing the Akedah.” The Furrow 69 (2018): 693-99.

 “Fraternity in the Gospel of Matthew: Discipleship and Doubt.” Pages 245-55 in Le défi de la fraternité (The Challenge of Fraternity). Edited by Marie-Jo Thiel & Marc Feix. Theology East–West: European Perspectives 23. Münster: LIT Verlag, 2018.

Dr Eugene Duffy has published the following article with Prof Myriam Wijlens, of the University of Erfurt:

“Diversity and Unity: Rethinking the Teaching Office of the Episcopal Conference in a Worldwide Church: A Study Project by the Peter and Paul Seminar”, Studia Canonica, 53 (2019), 7-13.

He has also published “Diversity in Teaching by Episcopal Conferences: Some Positive Considerations”, Studia Canonica, 53 (2019), 53-74.

Prof Eamonn Conway has recently published the following: 

Melita Theologica Vol 68/2
Melita Theologica Vol 68/2
Article on priestly formation by Eamonn Conway

What matters and what passes away

Published in the Irish Catholic newspaper Holy Thursday 9 April 2020

Eamonn Conway 

 

In 2009, I was diagnosed with a nasty form of eye cancer. Given that there was a likelihood of metastasis, my oncologist said that from now on my life would be a kind of high-wire act. He compared my situation to that of a fireman who daily has to scale dangerous ladders; the fireman knows that disaster might strike at any time but gets used to living with the risk.

 

Thank God, the cancer hasn’t recurred, yet the first few years in particular were marked by a profound sense of vulnerability and anxiety, especially coming up to scans and check-ups. I had taught classes on the theology of death, but for the first time I had to reckon with the reality that I myself was “mortally wounded”. I recall a book of that title by Michael Kearney, founder of the hospice movement in Ireland, that was particularly helpful at the time.  

 

I wrestled with the usual “why me” questions, and a period of self-pity. Eventually, this gave way to a trust in God’s mercy and a sense of God’s presence that was more profound than before.  What seemed like a disaster turned out to be a moment in which I received a gift: my faith became less idealistic, more real and practical. 

 

I also began to understand what is meant by divine providence, which is the conviction that our Creator has not abandoned us but continues to guide and protect us. The theologian John Macquarrie said that we only ever really come to know God’s providence through concrete “happenings”, that is, experiences we have and events we live through that bring home to us the reality that our lives are in God’s hands. These happenings reveal that “in all things God works for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). 

 

Providence is not to be confused with fate or fatalism. Fatalism is the notion that whatever happens, whether good or bad, has been determined by God in advance. Fatalism leaves no scope for human freedom or responsibility. Providence, on the other hand, accounts for both, yet allows scope for divine freedom and responsibility as well. Macquarrie gives us this analogy: God is like “a strong chess player who, whatever move his opponent will make, can still bring the game around to the way he intends it to go.”

 

One of the earliest biblical texts demonstrating divine providence at work is the story of Joseph (Gen 45).  Betrayed and sold into slavery by his brothers it turns out that he is the one upon whom the whole future of his tribe comes to depend. 

 

The story of Easter is divine providence at work par excellence. Jesus, God’s own Son, is betrayed and handed over to be crucified. To the disciples this seems like a disaster. Yet God raises Jesus from the dead and his betrayal and crucifixion become the means by which God’s unconditional love is revealed to the whole human race.  

 

We would all like to know what has caused Covid-19, not least if it helps avoid such disasters in the future. Yet that knowledge, if and when it comes, will not determine the meaning of this awful tragedy for us. This is something we have to determine for ourselves. 

There have been claims that it is God’s punishment. Such claims are not new. For instance, when thousands were killed in an earthquake in Lisbon in the eighteenth century some people argued that it was divine retribution. Voltaire (1694-1778) responded: “Did God in this earthquake select the 4,000 least virtuous of the Portuguese?” 

 

If Covid-19 is a punishment then it is a cruel and unjust one, afflicting the weak and the most vulnerable, on the one hand, and those with the courage and selflessness to care for them, on the other. What would that say of God? Covid-19 is not God’s punishment. At the heart of Christian faith is not a God of revenge and retribution but one of resurrection and new life. A number of New Testament texts record Jesus specifically severing the connection between suffering and guilt (see Jn 9:3; Lk 13: 2-3). 

 

Are we human beings ourselves responsible for Covid-19?  It is getting difficult to know where to draw the line between so-called “natural evil”, for which we humans would not be responsible, and “moral” evil, for which we would. Fintan O’Toole, for instance, has argued that we have “made an Earth that is subject, not just to our genius, but to our foolishness, our rapacity and our inability to imagine consequences until they are lapping at our doors.” Along similar lines, in his deeply moving Urbi et Orbi, Pope Francis said, 

In this world, that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything…, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick.

 

Unlike Fintan O’Toole, however, Pope Francis recognises the inextricable link between the ecology of nature and human ecology: “the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations, and so forth” (Laudato Si, n. 6).  “Thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation” (Laudato Si, n. 155). If Covid-19 has shown anything it is the illusory nature of many of our claims to power and to personal autonomy. 

 

This is, according to Pope Francis, “a time of choosing”. Perhaps we can see it as such in two important ways. 

 

The first is choice is to do as he asks, that is, to respond to this crisis by differentiating between what truly matters and what passes away; to distinguish between what is absolutely necessary and what is not. 

 

When the time comes to emerge from our quarantining and cocooning, perhaps we will re-evaluate our family life and invest time and energy in what really matters. We might also re-evaluate our work-places and practices. We might rely less on policies, procedures and processes, many of which have proven to be relatively useless as we scrambled to adapt to a world on-line, and instead cherish the gift of honest and genuine face-to-face human interaction. In my world, that of Catholic education, I would like to see some thought going into how we can do more than merely to provide students with techniques for coping with stress and instead to examine how we can accompany them in exploring the deeper questions of ultimate meaning that inevitably arise at this time. These are the questions that should always be at the heart of any educational system or institution that considers itself Catholic. 

 

This is, as Pope Francis says, “a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others”. The second choice we can make is to recognise that whether we like it or not our lives are always lived as a kind of high-wire act. Writing at the outbreak of World War II CS Lewis remarked that “the war creates no absolutely new situation: it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it.” So too with Covid-19. Perhaps that’s the gift in this awful tragedy: we are confronted, personally and communally, with the reality that we are “mortally wounded”.  

 

If so, it is a good space to be in as we celebrate Easter because it not only sharpens our appetite for resurrection but has us craving it. 

Just Gender Relations within the Church
Just Gender Relations within the Church
Paper given by Eamonn Conway in The Philippines
Catholic Education: A bright future?
Catholic Education: A bright future?
Eamonn Conway, The Irish Catholic, June 2019

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