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New centre for dialogue between faith and reason planned

By Sarah Mac Donald - 21 June, 2016

University Church St Stephen's Green

One of the most distinguished Catholic universities worldwide is to steward the establishment of a new centre for dialogue between faith and reason at University Church in St Stephen’s Green in Dublin.

On Monday, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin announced that Notre Dame University in the US will be involved in the establishment of the new centre which will aim to foster dialogue between Church and society.

University Church is associated with Blessed John Henry Newman and his vision of university formation. While he was rector of University College Dublin, University Church opened in 1856.

Newman was later named a cardinal and beatified by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2010.

The new centre’s operations will begin later this year, and according to the archdiocese of Dublin, it will have a special focus on outreach to young people in the capital, many of whom have not otherwise been drawn to the Church.

In a statement, the diocese said the centre will give particular attention to excellent liturgy and music, a lecture series and other intellectual activities which aim to integrate faith and reason, service to those in need and cultural events inside and outside of Newman University Church.

“I see the establishment of the Notre Dame-Newman Centre for Faith and Reason as an opportunity for University Church to return to its original vocation as a focal point for reflection on faith and reason. It is an opportunity for Dublin to take a lead in today’s changed social context in something which is part of the rich heritage of Newman’s presence in Dublin,” Archbishop Martin said.

He added that the centre would not be just an intellectual debating centre, but would also “work in the formation of an active and committed faith community of young people”.

“We live in the context of wanting to be a modern Irish Church authentically present in – but never completely at home within – contemporary Irish society. Pope Francis constantly recalls us to be a Church which is out in the world in service and in dialogue. He does not want a fearful Church obsessed just with the evils of the world. He does not want a Church in which we try to keep Jesus locked up within our own categories,” Archbishop Martin stated.

In a statement, the President of Notre Dame, Rev John I. Jenkins CSC said, “We are honored by Archbishop Martin’s invitation to expand the University’s presence in Dublin. Notre Dame stands in a proud legacy of uniting faith and reason, and Cardinal Newman is a giant in that pursuit. We are grateful for the opportunity to deepen appreciation for Cardinal Newman and his writings, and to bring the University’s mission to an iconic church on the Dublin cityscape.”

Fr Jenkins has appointed Notre Dame lecturer in law Rev William R. Dailey CSC as the Director of the centre.

Fr Dailey has served as a lecturer in law at Notre Dame Law School since 2010, as the St Thomas More Fellow of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture since 2013, and as Rector of Stanford Hall on the Notre Dame campus for three years.

In 2009, he returned to Columbia Law School as a Scholar in Residence. Fr Dailey’s teaching and scholarly interests are in the areas of jurisprudence and legal ethics.

He has appeared frequently on MSNBC to comment on faith and culture and has written for the New York Times and Washington Post on faith issues.

Steve Warner, the Director of the Notre Dame Folk Choir for the past 35 years, has accepted the role of Associate Director of the Notre Dame – Newman Centre for Faith and Reason, and will have special responsibilities regarding music, liturgy and outreach.

In his nearly four decades with campus ministry at Notre Dame, Steve Warner established the folk choir as a vital component of on-campus worship, and has played a significant role in Notre Dame’s liturgical traditions.

His liturgical music compositions are published exclusively through World Library Publications.

The Notre DameNewman Centre for Faith and Reason will complement an array of Notre Dame University activities already active in Ireland, including a portion of which is mediated through its network of Global Gateways.

The University’s five international Global Gateways—located in Dublin, Beijing, Jerusalem, London and Rome—provide academic and intellectual hubs where scholars, students and leaders from universities, government, business and community gather to discuss discover and debate issues of topical and enduring relevance.

Additionally, the University’s Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies is a teaching and research institute dedicated to the study and understanding of Irish culture.

The Institute supports undergraduate and graduate students in their pursuit of Irish Studies and provides opportunity for language study, travel classes, summer study in Dublin, internships in Dublin, conference support and more.

In 2015, Notre Dame entered into a partnership with Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, Co Galway, to create a centre to advance their shared spiritual, cultural and educational missions.

Notre Dame operates the House of Brigid in Ireland, a post-graduate service programme focused on parish-based liturgical and catechetical ministry.

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