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Smaller, ‘top class’ seminary discussed for Maynooth

By Katie Ascough - 26 October, 2019

We have been reflecting and discerning...about the future of first-class provision of philosophical, theological and pastoral formation for the whole Irish Church - Archbishop Eamon Martin

Archbishop Eamon Martin

Primate of All-Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin has said in an exclusive interview with The Irish Catholic that radical plans could see Maynooth seminary leaving its historic buildings for a purpose-built home on the same campus.

“Over the last two years anyway, we have been reflecting and discerning really about the future of seminary formation for Ireland, and also more widely than that about the future of first-class provision of philosophical, theological and pastoral formation for the whole Irish Church,” Archbishop Martin told The Irish Catholic.

Referring to the three institutions as “cheek by jowl” — that is, the pontifical university, the secular university, and the seminary, all based at Maynooth — Archbishop Martin revealed that the trustees thought something smaller should be planned for seminary education. It is believed this would take the form of a new building in Maynooth, but one that is “more in tune with the demands for the future” — essentially, one that would accommodate a smaller number of Irish seminarians, according to the Archbishop.

Martin also cited directions from Rome, “calling on us to provide a centre for the ongoing formation of clergy.”

The Archbishop also noted some concerns around maintaining the status quo at Maynooth seminary including its location, built heritage, and potential property development with Maynooth University.

“We’re currently in very high-level discussions with Maynooth University about the possibilities that we have to exploit the resources we have there in order to generate sufficient income to be able to do the exciting plans that I’ve been speaking to you about…

“I’m not so certain whether the current old buildings in Maynooth are what we’re dreaming of in terms of the future housing of, say, seminary formation, but they’re part of our tradition and we are very blessed that Maynooth University is our anchor tenant for a lot of the older buildings that we’re no longer using,” Archbishop Martin told The Irish Catholic.

In conclusion, he quoted Pope Francis’s “dream of a missionary impulse” which would transform the Church in the West. With this in mind, the Archbishop stressed the need to have a “very top class internationally-renowned centre of theological, philosophical and pastoral education.”

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