By Sean Ryan - 27 August, 2016
Top US Catholic University, Notre Dame, and the Benedictine Sisters of Kylemore Abbey have come together to dedicate their new joint centre of spiritual, cultural and educational mission.
The University of Notre Dame’s new Education Centre at Kylemore Abbey was officially dedicated on Thursday.
About 40 students from the US university will attend summer classes at Kylemore Abbey under this new partnership with the Benedictines who own the abbey.
Over one hundred senior academics and management from the Indiana-based college travelled to Connemara to take part in the ceremony.
The new centre will offer a wide range of academic programmes and residential facilities at the abbey for students from both Notre Dame and Ireland.
The opening of the Education Centre is the culmination of a long-running partnership between Kylemore Abbey and the University of Notre Dame.
Thursday’s events included a Mass in the abbey’s neo gothic chapel, an academic convocation and a blessing of the centre’s headquarters in Kylemore’s Saint Joseph Hall.
A special conferral of honorary degrees also took place on Thursday.
Thomas G. Burish, the University of Notre Dame’s Charles and Jill Fischer Provost, will presided at the convocation, during which the honorary doctoral degrees were conferred on Sr Máire Hickey, abbess of the Benedictine Community at Kylemore, and Justice Peter Kelly, president of Ireland’s High Court.
The partnership is being supported by Martin Naughton, a billionaire Irish businessman who founded consumer electrical goods firm Glen Dimplex.
Mr Naughton has already helped fund the University of Notre Dame’s Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies.
Lisa Caulfield, director of the new centre, said “a wide range of courses will be offered”.
She said the Kylemore programme, running every July and August, will complement the university’s Dublin campus, “where 2,500 students have passed through Notre Dame’s Irish studies programme at the Keough-Naughton centre on Merrion Square since its inception in 1998”.
“In its first summer, the Notre Dame Centre hosted a variety of academic programmes, including an environmental law conference, a week of coursework for Notre Dame’s Dublin summer programme, a week of coursework for the Irish Seminar, a two-week retreat for the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) from Dublin, a three-week creative writing seminar, the Ireland Inside Track programme and a workshop for the International Network for Comparative Humanities programme.’’
“Programme participants included Notre Dame undergraduate and graduate students and faculty as well as faculty from universities throughout Ireland, and scholars from around the globe.’’
The Notre Dame summer school will see the return of students to Kylemore Abbey six years after the nuns closed the boarding school they had run at their base in Connemara since the early 1920s.
Ownership of the abbey will remain in the hands of the Kylemore Trust, controlled by the nuns.
They moved into the 19th century castle in 1920 after leaving their abbey in Ypres, Belgium in 1914, when the Flemish town was destroyed during the First World War.