By Susan Gately - 16 May, 2014
Donegal programme gives students tools to defend the faith and grow closer to Jesus.
An American Catholic college will hold a three week university level course in Donegal this summer.
This is the second annual St Columcille Institute, a programme featuring classes in Catholic theology, history and literature.
“Through exposing young people to Catholic history, literature and theology and an understanding of where they come from, we hope to be able to form Catholic leaders who can go out and defend the faith articulately and passionately,” Niall O’Donnell from Christendom College told CatholcIreland.net
Speaking from the college in Virginia, he said the outreach three-week course, which runs from 20 July to 11 August at the Ards Friary in County Donegal, was placed in Ireland because of its Catholic history which “saved civilisation during the dark ages” and because it is English speaking.
“Ireland seems like a fitting place for re-establishing our cultural roots which are under attack by secular society,” he said.
Last year around forty students attended the course. Currently twenty-five are booked, over half coming from the US.
Students will study theology, English literature (including fiction, drama, and poetry drawn from the masterworks of the Western literary tradition with a special emphasis on Irish writers).
The history course will cover the rise and development of Christian Europe, highlighting the special contribution made by Catholic Ireland.
The courses will all be led by academics from Christendom College in Virginia and will be geared towards third level students.
This year the course will also feature a series of workshops on ‘The Art of Communication in the New Evangelisation’ led by Sean Lovett, the Director of English Programming for Vatican Radio.
For Irish students, the three-week course costs €1,500 covering tuition, meals, accommodation and trips within Donegal.
According to Niall O’Donnell there is financial aid available.
“The applicant should just mention that he or she is interested in receiving financial aid when he or she applies.”
The first St Columcille Institute course ran last summer.
“Students really found the institute to be a life-changing experience for them,” College President and Institute Director, Dr Timothy O’Donnell, said.
“Not only did they grow in their understanding of the Faith, but they grew closer to the Person at the centre of the Faith — Jesus Christ.”
Maribeth Kelly, a student at the course last year, said the “most wonderful part of the trip for me was the amount of free time in such a peaceful atmosphere as Ards Friary.”
There were many opportunities for spiritual growth, prayer, meditation, and daily Mass and Adoration, she said.
“Everyday, I would find myself going for walks up on the cliffs overlooking the bay, meditating on the lectures from class that morning and how to apply those lessons to my own life. During my time in Ireland, I definitely grew closer to Christ and came to a deeper knowledge of my faith and my unique role in the New Evangelisation.”
Another participant last year, Peter Deucher, said he realised “just how much Ireland has been through as a country and how much it has contributed to preserving and spreading the Faith.”
There are still available places. Enquiries should be made to http://www.christendom.edu/ireland