Institute to foster Catholic ethos
A two-year part-time MA course in education, with a specialisation in theology and religious education, will start in Ballina, Co Mayo in October, the Bishop of Killala, Dr Thomas Finnegan, said at the opening of the Newman Institute yesterday.
The religious education units of the M.Ed syllabus are intended for catechists and religious education teachers who will soon be teaching RE as an examination subject, he said.
The institute is seen as the embryo of a Catholic university, "a small college with its own culture and ethos, gradually establishing links with St Patrick's College Maynooth, the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome and the NUI colleges," he said.
The vision of a university which had a clearly defined relationship with the Catholic Church and where theology was taught had been identified in conferences on the subject.
Theology would be at the centre of the institute, said Dr Finnegan. "The relationship between truth and freedom is at the heart of today's moral crisis. The very concept of universally valid principles is called into question. Another challenge comes from the continuing explosion of knowledge and its instant accessibility. "It is in this environment that a Catholic university must operate at the interface between the church and the world of thought."
As well as theology, the institute would have a course in community development.
The bishop said that the working of the institute had been made possible so far by the support of the Kennedy Charitable Foundation in Manchester.
It would have state-of-the-art interactive video-conferencing and distance learning arrangements with leading universities worldwide through the facilities developed by Moy Valley Teleservices International.