Cardinal offered 19 'positive observations' of college


APOSTOLIC VISITATION:CARDINAL TIMOTHY Dolan concludes his somewhat bruising 17-page report on the Irish College in Rome with unexpected warmth.

Speaking of himself in the third person, as he did throughout, he said “the apostolic visitor left the college filled with affection and admiration for the students, and, notwithstanding his criticisms, appreciation for the sincerity and hard work of the staff”, who he had just recommended be changed.

He also said he was “warmly welcomed by the rector . . . his staff, seminarians, and student priests. The visitor enjoyed his stay and appreciated the hospitality of this community”.

He outlined 19 “positive observations” about the college. These included an atmosphere that was “warm, inviting, hospitable”, and a physical environment that was “comfortable, while not opulent”.

In general, the seminarians were “sincere”, “earnest in their desire to be priests after the heart of Christ” and took their academic work seriously. The four staff were “visible, available, and engaged . . . ” while the presence of student priests was “of some benefit in their example”.

Liturgical and devotional life was “impressive”, as was “the use of cassock and surplice by the liturgical ministers, and by the men admitted to candidacy during the visitor’s stay”. The rector was “very generous” in his “realistic acceptance of his multiple duties both in the seminary and the wider community”.

The “hosting of Irish cultural events and frequent visitors” there was “valuable in preparing men for a life of priestly service and engagement in Ireland”.

He found “the rector and vice rector’s financial stewardship to be sound”. Seminarians attendance at classes and liturgies were “high and consistent”, while their ability in Italian was “very impressive”. Another positive was “the staff’s knowledge of, and insight into, the student’s perspective.”

With something of a flourish, he described the college as “a revered and venerated institution for Ireland, dating back to 1628”. Its impact “on the church in Ireland is prodigious, not only in forming generations of faithful priests, but also in serving as a centre of Irish hospitality, culture, and pastoral activity in the Eternal City”.