The launch of the DCU Jesuit Library Partnership took place in All Hallows College Dublin on Tuesday 1 Oct at 4.30 pm. The Irish Jesuit Provincial Leonard Moloney SJ and Brian MacCraith, (front of photo) President of Dublin City University signed a partnership agreement in which the Jesuit Province confirmed the transfer of its renowned Milltown Park library collection to Dublin City University. Professor MacCraith said the library would mark “a massive advance for the university but also for scholarship in general in Ireland. It will be a great resource for anyone interested in the areas covered by the library.” Daire Keogh, (photo back left) Deputy President of Dublin City University who played a key role in the negotiations surrounding the move, said the partnership “will transform the student experience”, in the university. Professor Keogh was speaking at the launch (listen here) attended by Jesuits, colleagues, former Milltown staff, and current staff and students from DCU. He said the library transfer was not a ‘transaction’ but a ‘partnership. “Effectively what has happened is that the Milltown Park community and the Jesuit Order have decided to move their library here where we will mind it for them… It’s not about ownership but it’s a way of maximising its accessibility and again it’s a way of inviting students to engage with the collection.” Commenting on the quality, range and academic value of the books in the library, Daire Keogh said, “It’s a hugely significant collection in terms of classical, and contemporary theological issues.”  He said the library will be of great benefit to the 400 students in DCU in taught under-graduate and postgraduate studies many of whom are studying theology along with the 20 postgraduate research students. As well as housing an impressive collection of philosophical and theological works spanning many centuries, the library also hosts significant books in the field of literature and history. The transfer of the library to Woodlock Hall in the All Hallows campus is a mammoth task involving the registering of 140,00 volumes that are subsequently packed into 25,000 boxes. In an attempt to give a sense of the size of the library Daire Keogh said that if all the books were laid flat, one after the other from  All Hallows outwards they would reach back to Milltown Park or beyond!
The Blessed John Sullivan Exhibition as part of National Heritage Week attracted an audience of 800 people in the People’s Church, Clongowes Wood College SJ, County Kildare, on 25 August 2019. The event, which featured a large collection of newspaper articles on the Irish Jesuit and an audio-visual display on his family, was launched by Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin with the Rector of Clongowes, Michael Sheil SJ, and Conor Harper SJ, Vice Postulator for the cause of John Sullivan, also addressing the audience. The exhibition had its origins at the National Ploughing Championships last year. Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications, who organised the Jesuit stand at the event, invited Cait Cullen to display images of John Sullivan at the stand. Cait, who is from the Clane area, has been a tireless promoter of the cause of Blessed John Sullivan for many years, and recently received a papal benemerenti medal for this work. The interest shown in the John Sullivan section at the stand and requests for additional information prompted her to organise an exhibition in Clongowes. She then collaborated with the John Sullivan Exhibition Team, a group of lay people in the locality who have provided assistance to the Jesuits with John Sullivan events in recent years. The exhibition ran from 2 to 5 pm in the People’s Church in the College. The numbers that attended exceeded all expectations. There were long queues at the entrance, which prompted the organisers to extend the opening hours to 6 pm. The newspaper articles featured in the exhibition dated from 1865 to 2017. They were taken from almost twenty different regional and national newspapers. Some of the earlier ones related to history of John Sullivan’s family, but the greater number concerned his pastoral work, his funeral in Clongowes in 1933, and the exhumation and transfer of his remains to St Francis Xavier Church, Gardiner Street, Dublin, in 1960. More recent articles covered the annual Clongowes Mass and Blessed John’s beatification in Dublin. Articles on the ecumenical dimension of his life also featured. John Sullivan was a member of the Church of Ireland tradition for the first half of his life and a Catholic in the second half. The Church of Ireland was represented at the event by Deacon John Hillis. It is intended to show the exhibition at other venues in the near future. And once again, some of these traces of Blessed John’s life and influence will be on display at this year’s National Ploughing Championships, which will be held from 17 to 19 September in Fenagh, County Carlow. Jesuits in Ireland
Gavin T. Murphy, mental health and well-being blogger, speaks to Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications about the publication of his first book entitled Bursting Out in Praise: Spirituality and Mental Health with Messenger Publications. In the interview, he describes a typical day in his life trying to live well with bipolar disorder, and he encourages the general public to live a balanced life too. In Bursting Out in Praise Gavin takes the reader through the six steps of his journey to better mental health, drawing on the wisdom of St Ignatius of Loyola, St Hildegard of Bingen and St Francis of Assisi and well-known mental health experts. Editor of Messenger Publications, Donal Neary SJ, asked Gavin to write the book after hearing him present a series of reflections on RTE Radio One’s A Living Word programme. Gavin expanded on these reflections to include research while studying for an MA in Applied Spirituality at Waterford Institute of Technology. Speaking to Pat Coyle, he hopes the book will encourage readers to ‘burst out in praise’ in the midst of pain or suffering. Click here to listen to the interview
Brendan McPartlin is a member of the Jesuit community in Churchill Park, Portadown, in Northern Ireland. Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications visited him there recently. She spoke with him about the Jesuit ministry in the Portadown-Craigavon area since it began in the early ’80s with the late Paddy Doyle SJ, former Irish Jesuit Provincial. In those day the Jesuits came to Churchill Park on the Garvaghy Road to simply be a presence to the beleaguered people who lived there who suffered from poverty and sectarian violence. The area made world headlines when the Orange Order demanded the right to march through this nationalist area. In this interview, Brendan explains how nowadays the situation for the people is much improved. The area itself is in much better shape. The Orangemen still demand the right to march down the Garvaghy Road but are not allowed to, though they still march to the start of the road every week before being turned back, says Brendan. The violence has stopped, but the Jesuits are involved in reconciliation and building the peace, work that must go on, according to Brendan. He discusses the cross-community work they are involved in, including his hosting of a theological study group in the house in Churchill Park which is attended mostly by members of the protestant community. One of the big changes in the locality over the last 10 years has been the arrival of migrants from Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia. The Portadown-Craigavon area has the largest density of migrants in Northern Ireland. According to Brendan, they are hard-working people who have helped improve the local economy, often doing jobs that others are reluctant to take on. The Jesuits have set up the Migrant Support Service in Portadown to assist the migrant community. Portadown’s Drumcree Community Trust is chaired by Michael Bingham SJ, and it has employed two part-time, bi-lingual support workers to work with the children of immigrant families in the area. The two, one Polish and the other Portuguese, are assisting primary school children with their homework and with integration into the Community Centre activities. Brendan works with lay people in the centre providing advice and support in a variety of ways as he explains in this interview. Listen to the interview
A new analytics survey of the Jesuit online prayer website Sacred Space has revealed the website to be in excellent shape, as it marks its 20th birthday. The research was undertaken by digital marketing expert John McDermot, Director of Systemivity (a digital marketing and development company). It showed that 700 people are praying every hour on Sacred Space. That translates into an average of 16,000 per day from around the world, and this online community of prayer has reached over 20,000 daily on occasions. “This means that Sacred Space is one of the top most-visited prayer websites in the world,” according to John, who built Sacred Space’s first content management system back in 2006. “These are staggering figures,” he adds. The survey also reveals that Sacred Space comes number one in the world in Google search, for the term ‘daily prayer website’.  It is in the top ten in most Google searches for online prayer, often hitting number one on many searches. Feedback Fiona Owens, Office Manager with Sacred Space, says the regular feedback from people praying all over the world on the site, is most encouraging. “I’m very touched by the hunger in people for meaning and support in their life and in their prayer.” She cites some examples: ‘Finding Sacred Space by accident has been a blessing during my darkest moments when I thought I could not go on.’ And, ‘It has been the only thread that has guided me back to a place of faith and direction’ Also, ‘The gospel inspirations provide insight to allow for inner searching’. Fiona also receives many requests from different Christian denominations for permission to use the website material as part of their faith formation projects in parishes and schools. “We had a request recently from a school in Australia. They told us they use Sacred Space daily for morning prayer with their students.” Online retreat In the season of Advent and Lent, Sacred Space offers an online retreat for their prayer community. They do this in collaboration with the British Province who run the podcast prayer service ‘Pray As You Go’. “This is a really important collaboration that’s been going on for a number of years now,” according to Pat Coyle, Director of Sacred Space. “Each season we take turns in sourcing a new writer for the retreat. The same material is then used on both sites, so those praying the retreat can do so by reading or listening or both.” Again, the feedback on these retreats is always uplifting, according to Pat. Irish Province Sacred Space has returned to the Irish Province after a three-year collaboration with Loyola Press in Chicago. Messenger Publications in Ireland have completely taken over the publication of the Sacred Space Prayer Book. According to Donal Neary SJ and Cecilia West of Messenger Publications, it is one of their best-selling books. Some of the weekly content featured on Sacred Space is taken from books on Ignatian spirituality published by Messenger Publications. “As we reach the 20th birthday of Sacred Space, founded by Alan McGuckian SJ with Peter Scally SJ back in 1999, it’s great to find out that it is still a thriving prayer website, and that the Spirit is alive and active, nourishing thousands of people around the world every day,” says Fiona.
Brendan McManus SJ and Jim Deeds, with the help of Presbyterian Minister Reverend Steve Stockman, launched their book Deeper into the mess: Praying through tough times in Belfast’s Fitzroy Presbyterian Church on 19 May 2019. The event, which featured faith sharing and live music, attracted a packed audience consisting of people across all denominations and none. The follow up to their best-selling first book, Finding God in the Mess: Meditations for Mindful Living, this collaboration was based on a Facebook survey of what people reported were the ‘messes’ in their lives. Accordingly the book offers practical meditations for dealing with depression, anger, suicide, breakdown etc., as well as celebrating hope and optimism. Loosely based around the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola, each chapter has a quote from the saint and an imaginary ‘conversation with God’ which voices doubts and fears as a two way conversation. Fitzroy Presbyterian Church was the ideal venue for a book based in Belfast that sought to reach people of all denominations united in their human solidarity and desire to find God. Hosted by Rev Steve Stockman, the evening comprised live interviews with Brendan and Jim about their faith journeys, friendship and writing method. This was interspersed with music from Jim and Brendan aided by the Christian singer Beki Hemmingway. Midway through was a dramatised ‘conversation with God’ from the book (played by Sharon Arnold from Fitzroy) and a meditation called ‘All will be well’ from the book read by Caren Collins of Living Church. Finally, Donal Neary SJ, editor of Messenger Publications (the book’s publisher) spoke a few words of encouragement. The hospitality was provided by the Fitzroy team and over 120 people attended. While there was a casual tone to the evening, there was no mistaking the Christian commitment to prayer, faith and helping those in need. One attendee remarked that everyone there was having a good time, praying, singing and chatting together and that no one knew or cared what tradition (if any) people came from. Caring about each other and especially those in trouble was enough. What was very evident was that the book was the result of Brendan and Jim’s close friendship, shared faith and complimentary style of writing and working together – they also offer a retreat/workshop around Ireland.