Global Researchers Advancing Catholic Education (G.R.A.C.E.) is an international research-based partnership between Mary Immaculate College Limerick, Boston College, United States, the University of Notre Dame Fremantle, Australia, and St Mary’s University in Twickenham, London. GRACE also works in partnership with OIEC (International Office of Catholic Education). As an emerging community of practice (Wenger, 2000), G.R.A.C.E. provides an original opportunity for scholars of Catholic education and theology 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.
The Project in Ireland and the UK is led by a team of researchers at Mary Immaculate College and by two of our colleagues from OIEC
It is supported by Alex McKillican who holds the GRACE PhD Assistantship in Catholic Education.
The GRACE Community of Practice
Strengthening Catholic education in the current situation, and above all in a Post-Covid19 environment, requires a creative, integrative response, and 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.
Through the establishment of a Global Community of Practice, GRACE’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 and virtual conversations, informal discourse, and reflective discussions.
The GRACE Community of Practice is designed to influence three domains of the field of Catholic education:
- Cognitive: the theoretical and conceptual base of Catholic education;
- Affective: the formative qualities and experiences that shape the Catholic educator and scholar;
- 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.
In these particular ways, GRACE hosts a ‘culture of encounter’ (Pope Francis) where people gather, learn from and grow with one another, contributing to the common good and living a sustainable manner.
The Community of Practice is for everyone interested in a new, integrated and revitalised approach to Catholic education: teachers, governors, chaplains, parents, researchers, established and emerging academics, and thought leaders. In the early stages of the project the focus is on the UK, Ireland, North America and Australia. However, in its second phase the project will be actively seeking partners in the Global South.
Partners, Links & Resources
Project Lead Coordinators
Prof Philip Booth, Dean of the Faculty of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, St Mary’s University, London.
Linda Cranley, Senior Lecturer & Co-ordinator, Bed (Primary), University of Notre Dame Australia.
Dr Christine Edwards-Leis, Director of the Professional Doctorate in Education and Post Graduate Research Programme, St Mary’s University, London.
Prof Chris Hackett, Associate Dean (Religious Education), University of Notre Dame Australia.
Dr Caroline Healy, Lecturer in Educational Leadership and Management, St Mary’s University, London.
Scholarships & Bursaries
Conferences & Webinars
GRACE Lecture Series
19th January 2021 (4pm Irish time): Lumen Christi Institute: ‘Beyond Test Scores: Measuring the Contributions of Catholic Schools and Universities’
Registration here: https://www.lumenchristi.org/event/2021/01/beyond-test-scores
The Department of Theology & Religious Studies
presents the following lecture on:
“Pope Francis’s vision for the post-Covid world”
An online talk and discussion with Dr Austen Ivereigh, Francis’ biographer and collaborator on the Pope’s book Let Us Dream: the Path to a Better Future.
January 21st 2021 @ 19.30
AUSTEN IVEREIGH, D.Phil.
Author, Journalist, and Fellow in Contemporary Church History at Campion Hall, Univ. Oxford
It is recommended that participants have read Let Us Dream: the Path to a Better Future in advance.
Please register in advance with firstname.lastname@example.org who will provide the Zoom link for the webinar.
Risking to Live and Love Like Jesus
March 9th 2021 7pm (GMT)
The Heart of the Teacher in a Catholic School
Dr. Maureen Glackin
Catholic Independent Schools’ Conference
Leading learning within a Catholic school requires a singular disposition – one that has the humility to be reflective but the audacity to believe that one speaks in the vernacular of Christ the Teacher in all aspects of the role. This vernacular, which Pope Francis terms the language of the mind, the language of the heart, and the language of the hands, informs not only the professional identity but also the personal formation of the Catholic professional. Using the words of those at the ‘chalk face’, my lecture will explore and celebrate this unique synthesis of the professional, the spiritual and the personal in the life and practice of educators in Catholic schools and articulate the prophetic nature of their role in the contemporary church.
Edith Stein: Catholic Education in Service of Personhood
May 11th 2021 7pm (GMT)
Emeritus Professor John Sullivan
Liverpool Hope University
Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, 1891 - 1942) modelled what is at the heart of Catholic education: the fostering of authentic personhood. After an overview of her life and work, I explore key aspects of her understanding of the nature of persons and of spirituality, before presenting major themes in her writings on education. Edith Stein can still guide and inspire Catholic educators and those wishing to integrate professional work with Christian discipleship.
EXPÉRIENCES DES ÉCOLES CHRÉTIENNES POUR RÉPONDRE À LA CRISE DE LA COVID
Séminaire virtuel, 10 Novembre 2020 – 16h-17h CEST
Pour participer, merci de vous inscrire au lien ci-après – nous vous enverrons un lien web avant le séminaire pour que vous puissiez vous connecter.
Inscriptions : https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LGP7W5K
Dans le cadre des consultations de l’UNESCO sur le futur de l’éducation, OIEC, OIDEL et GPEN
Reformation organisent un séminaire sur les expériences des écoles chrétiennes pour répondre à la crise éducative suite à la pandémie de la COVID. Comment les écoles ont-elles répondu à la crise en termes d’innovations d’éducation à distance ? Quels sont les difficultés auxquelles les écoles sont confrontées ? Quelles sont les implications de la crise pour le futur de l’education, et dans quelle mesure les leçons apprises ce derniers mois va-t-telle accélérer certains changements dans les systèmes éducatifs ? Sur la base en particulier de l’expérience des pays francophones d’Europe et d’Afrique, ce webinaire apportera des réponses à ces questions.
Guy Selderlagh, Secrétaire General, Comité Européen de l'Enseignement Catholique
Annette Scheunpflug, Chair of Foundations in Education, Otto-Friedrich-University of Bamberg Rev. Samuel Mutabazi, Directeur, Bureau National de l'Enseignement Protestant, Rwanda
Francophone writers, feminist writing!
Sorority, Solidarity, Realities
Wednesday 25 November 2020 @ 6pm
Online and Free event
“When war is women’s concern, it will be called peace!” (Aristophanes)
In 2018, at the Yerevan summit, President Macron launched from the podium a call for a "Feminist Francophonie"! In this fiftieth anniversary of the Francophonie, we wanted to bring together committed Francophone writers to share their views on the world of today.
Crossed perspectives from Caribbean women writers and Maghreb women writers: The complex realities of these women bring, through the French language, a vision, a special sensitivity, in a rapidly changing francophone space.
Four important Francophone women writers which include: Soumaya Guessous, Fawzia Zouari, Suzanne Dracius and Marijosé Alie-Monthieux have accepted this challenge with great enthusiasm.
The discussion will be moderated by Sinéad Mac Aodha, director of Literature Ireland, who will talk to us about Irish women’s literature which is changing today and no longer hesitates to tackle subjects long taboo in Ireland.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defense, Mr. Simon Coveney and the Ambassador of Belgium to Ireland, H.E. Pierre-Emmanuel De Bauw will provide opening remarks.
Presented by the Embassies members of the International Organization of la Francophonie in Ireland and organized with the contribution of Literature Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco, the Alliance Française Dublin and the French Embassy.
Wednesday 25 November 2020, 6pm in Ireland Simultaneous interpreting in English and French Free Online Event - Register here!
The Heart of Catholic Education
Conversation with Dr. Thomas H. Groome
Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 2:30 - 4:00 PM EST
When a school presents itself to the world as offering Catholic education, it signals, at a minimum, that it is committed to educating from and for faith. It is to educate from deep spiritual convictions that are core to Catholicism and for a Transcendent as well as an immanent perspective on l ife in the world and how to l ive it well. What then, we might ask, is at "the heart" of Catholic education. We surely need to know for moving forward faithfully in our time.
Dr. Thomas H. Groome is a senior Professor of Theology and Religious Education at Boston College, and is the long- serving Director of its Ph. D. in Theology and Education. He holds an MA in Religious Education from Fordham University and a Doctorate in Theology and Education from Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary, New York. For many years he was the senior faculty person and then Director of Boston College’ s famed Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry ( now a Department within BC’ s School of Theology and Ministry, which he has served as Chair). He has also served as Director of BC’ s Church in the 21st Century Center.
To register click here
The inaugural webinar of the Global Researchers Advocating Catholic Education Project (GRACE) recently took place on the 6th of October. The initial response to invitations to the webinar was very encouraging and we were delighted with the subsequent attendance of almost thirty colleagues from various schools Catholic HEIs in Ireland as well as a number of schools and colleges in the UK, the USA and mainland Europe. Many of the participants were alumni/ae of the MIC Christian Leadership in Education Programmes.
Dr Stijn Van den Bossche (Flanders) was our keynote presenter and he spoke on From pedagogy to mystagogy: transitions and transformations in Catholic Education. He has a key interest in urging teachers and leaders in Catholic Education to move beyond viewing Catholic schools as places of Christian initiation and catechesis to seeing them as a core part of the Church's mission and service to society as a whole.
Due to the current Covid 19 situation our initial summer gathering was to be held in Kylemore Abbey, but this was cancelled, and the online webinar was one of the events organised in its place. Although we very much look forward to planning future GRACE events which will allow participants to meet in person, in the meantime meeting online proves to be a satisfactory replacement. The format of the inaugural webinar was as follows:
7.30pm - 8.00pm Lecture by Dr Van den Bossche
8.00pm - 8.20pm Discussion of his presentation
8.20pm - 9.00pm Information on and plans for the GRACE Project in Ireland
During the webinar there was an extremely fruitful discussion where participants were asked to think about what Dr Van den Bossche had presented on. Using ‘breakout rooms’ participants were grouped and were then asked to discuss the presentation while considering two things: What most affirmed you? What most challenged you? This proved to be very effective and led to a frank discussion on some of the key issues impacting on Catholic education today. Just one example of the many interesting things which were discussed came in the form of a comment and question from Emeritus Prof John Sullivan from Liverpool Hope University. He suggested that Catholic educators have become ‘over-familiar’ with the gospel, adding that it [the gospel] has become ‘domesticated’, the radical nature of the Gospel message has been diluted. This prompted the question: How can we ‘shock’ educators back into being inspired by the Gospel? Dr Van den Bossche’s response was to say that since we live in a post-Christian world, this is a complex question. However, he went on to posit that what is needed is for Catholic educators to focus on what is called the ‘second proclamation’. Introduced by John Paul II in 1979, this was a call to a new evangelization. In more in precise terms this can be found in Evangelii Gaudium where it says: ‘All Christian formation consists of entering more deeply into the kerygma, which is reflected in and constantly illumines the work of catechesis, thereby enabling us to understand more fully the significance of every theme which the latter treats’ (Evangelii gaudium, 164-165). Dr Van den Bossche developed this point when he said that the Gospel must be rediscovered by the ecclesial community and made to resonate as a culturally habitable place as we are facing the ‘second’ cultural situation.
The final part of the evening was a look ahead to future GRACE events and information on and plans for the GRACE Project in Ireland was given. Here, specifically, establishing our upcoming Communities of Practice was the focus of discussion.
Publications and Media Reports & Events
Here we will list publications, videos, media events and reports related to Catholic Education by researchers associated with the GRACE Project. If you are associated with the GRACE project and would like to link to any of your publications here please contact email@example.com.
Publications by Professor Eamonn Conway, Mary Immaculate College
For Professor Conway’s webpage and a full publications please click here.
Recent media appearances in relation to Catholic Education
- 2017. Conway, E., “Why Faith Schools Matter and the Challenge of Divestment”, The Furrow, Vol 68 (6), June 2017, 350 – 361.
- 2016. Conway, E., with Finegan,T, “Dignitatis Humanae: public funding and divesting of faith schools in a liberal state”, Melita Theologica: Journal of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Malta, 66/1 (2016) 47 – 68.
- 2016. Conway, E., “Pope Francis and Young People”, Religious Life Review, March/April, Dublin: Dominican Publications, 69 – 84.
- 2015. Conway, E., "Vatican II on Christian Education: Can it guide us through today's 'educational emergency’?” In: Coll, N., (Ed), Vatican II and Ireland: Its History and Its Prospects, Dublin: Columba Press, 253 -273
- 2015. Conway E., "From Self-fulfilment to Self-sacrifice", Le Chéile, Issue 24 Dec 2015, 4.
- 2014. Conway, E., "A Pope from the Global South: Redirecting Evangelisation", In: McDonagh, E., (Ed), Performing the Word: Festschrift for Ronan Drury, Dublin: Columba Press, 93-10
- 2012. Conway, E., “God in the Workplace – challenges for third-level chaplaincy”, The Furrow, Vol 63 (5), 274 – 281
Publications by Dr David Torvell, Liverpool Hope University
- ‘Racism, anger and the move towards reconciliation: A modest proposal about returning to a stable base’, Journal of Beliefs and Values, Vol. 40. 2. Hardcopy, April, 2019. Published online, February, 2019.
- ‘Distractions, Illusion and the Need for a Contemplative Spirituality: A Critique of Thomas Merton’s Advice’, Journal for the Study of Spirituality, October, 2019. Published online, August, 2019.
- ‘A Catholic Approach to Youth Depression – implications for those working in Catholic schools, colleges and universities’, International Studies in Catholic Education, Hardcopy and published online, October, 2019.
- ‘Withstanding the Goading of Temptation or Not?: An Inter-textual Study of Pride and Envy in Genesis 3:1-19 and Shakespeare’s Othello’, International Journal of Social Science Studies, Hardcopy, November, 2019. Vol.7. No. 6. Published online, September, 2019
- ‘Self-Assertion, “Ignorant Backwoodsmen” and the Experience of (Un) Safe Spaces’, Irish Theological Quarterly, Vol. 85. 3. August, 2020. Published online, Hardcopy, August, 2020. Vol.55. (3).
- ‘Teaching Theological Anthropology through English Literature Set Texts in Catholic Secondary Schools and Colleges’. International Journal of Christianity and Education, November 2020. Volume 24, Issue 3 of International Journal of Christianity & Education and is available at https://doi.org/10.1177/2056997120944942
- ‘The Mystical Aim of Catholic Education: An Examination’, Spirituality, May/June, 2019.
- “ ‘A Beautiful Thing’. Catholic VI Form Colleges and Catholic Universities in England and Wales. The Education Journal, The Universe, October, 2019.
Publications by Dr Dan O'Connell, Mary Immaculate College
O’Connell, D. (2017) ‘Going below the surface of Grow in Love: Some of the theological presuppositions in the new Catholic religious education primary programme for Ireland’ in Shanahan, M. (ed) Does Religious Education Matter? London: Routledge, 76-87.
O’Connell, D., Ryan, M., and Harmon, M. (2018) “Will we have teachers for Catholic primary schools in Ireland?” in Whittle, S., (ed.) What ought to be happening in RE in Catholic schools? Perspectives from England, Ireland and Scotland, London: Peter Lang.
Publications by Dr John-Paul Sheridan
2019 The Bible and the Child – Scripture as a Contribution to Religious Education. In Salvador Ryan & Liam M. Tracey OSM, editors. "The Cultural Reception of the Bible Explorations in theology, literature and the arts. Essays in honour of Brendan McConvery, CSsR". Dublin: Four Courts.
2019 The Politicisation of Catholic Education in Ireland. In Leonard Franchi, editor. “Catholicism, Culture, Education.” Paris: L’Harmattan.
2021 The Sign and Pledge of That Communion – Catholic Schools and Liturgy. In Denis Robinson, editor. “Living Ethos: Promoting Human Flourishing in an Educational Environment. (no publisher details yet).
Publications by Assoc. Prof. John Lydon
Invited Chapter in Festschrift
Lydon J. (forthcoming 2021) ‘Professor Gerald Grace and the concept of ‘Spiritual Capital’: reflections on its value and suggestions for its future development
. In: New Thinking, New Scholarship and New Research in Catholic Education: Responses to the work of Professor Gerald Grace
Co-Authored Chapter in Book
J. Briody and J. Lydon (forthcoming 2020): ‘Renewing Spiritual Capital in Schools’ In: G Byrne, (Editor), Catholic Education: Formal and Informal, Dublin: Veritas
Co-Authored Chapter in Book
C. Healy and J. Lydon (in press 2020) ‘Shepherding Talent – an informal formation programme for aspiring Catholic school leaders’, Chapter 12 In: S. Whittle (ed.) Irish and British Reflections on Catholic Education: contemporary research and emerging studies from the field London: Springer
Co-Authored Chapter in Book
Glackin, M. & Lydon J., (2018), ‘Getting Embedded Together: New Partnerships for Twentieth-Century Catholic Education’ Chapter 15, pp. 191-202. In S. Whittle, (ed.), Researching Catholic Education, Chennai India, Springer
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-7808-8_15 (available as an e-book in university library)
Single Editor of Book
Lydon, J., ed. (2018), Contemporary Perspectives on Catholic Education, Leominster: Gracewing
Single Author chapter in book
Lydon, J. (2018), ‘Initial and On-Going Formation of Catholic School Teachers and Leaders: A Perspective from the UK’ Chapter 13, pp. 159-169. In: J. Lydon, (Editor), Contemporary Perspectives on Catholic Education, Leominster: Gracewing
Single Authored Article in Peer Reviewed Journal
Lydon, J. (2018) ‘Teaching Religious Education in Catholic Schools in England and Wales’. In M. Yuen (ed.) ‘Teaching Catholic Social Ethics and Civic Education’, Hong Kong Journal of Catholic Studies, No. 8, January 2018, pp. 92-122
Full text available online at:
Single-Author - refereed journal article
Lydon, J., (2011) Religious Charism in Salesian Schools in Hayes, M., (ed.), The Pastoral Review, Volume 7 Issue 6, London: The Tablet Publishing Company http://research.stmarys.ac.uk/421/
Single-Author – book
Lydon, J., (2011) The Contemporary Catholic Teacher: A Reappraisal of the Concept of Teaching as a Vocation in the Catholic Christian Context Saarbrucken, Germany: Lambert Academic Publishing http://research.stmarys.ac.uk/98/
Single-Author - refereed journal article
Lydon, J., (2009) ‘Transmission of the Charism: A Major Challenge for Catholic Education’ in Grace, G., (ed.), International Studies in Catholic Education Vol. 1. Issue No. 1 Pages 42-58, London: Routledge – most accessed article in Journal to date (full text available here) http://research.stmarys.ac.uk/429/
- The GRACE Community of Practice
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