Notre Dame returns to its roots with 'faith and reason' center in Ireland

By Tonia Borsellino

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University of Notre Dame. Credit: Kahunapule Michael Johnson via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

The Fighting Irish are headed to the Emerald Isle, with plans to establish a new center for dialogue between faith and reason in Dublin.

The Archbishop of Dublin made the announcement June 20 that Notre Dame University will head the initiative at University Church in St. Stephen’s Green.

“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 the reflection on faith and reason,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said.

The Centre will focus on reaching out to young people. It will give attention to liturgy and music, a lecture series, and other activities that integrate faith and reason, service, and cultural events in and around Newman University Church.  

Chuck Lamphier, the Director of Church Affairs at Notre Dame, told EWTN News that the Indiana-based university accepted the archbishop’s invitation, in part, because of its longstanding history in Ireland.

“Notre Dame has the largest program of Irish language studies outside of Ireland,” he explained.

“We also recognize that Notre Dame was built by many Irish immigrants and Irish Americans, and we feel a certain responsibility to contribute to the Irish Church if we can.”

Notre Dame already has a presence in Ireland along with Rome, Beijing, Jerusalem, and London, as part of its “Global Gateways” network. The university offers programs for undergraduate and graduate studies in Ireland. It also started a partnership with the Benedictine Community at Kylemore Abbey in 2015.

Lamphier said Notre Dame is blessed to be part of the Church that Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman built and opened in 1856.  

“Newman is a great hero of the Church in the 19th century and we are grateful that Archbishop Martin invited us to be a part of lifting up his legacy in Ireland,” he said.

According to Lamphier, having a Centre of Faith and Reason in Ireland is one more way for Notre Dame to contribute to the Church, “to the faith understanding of young people in Dublin, and for Notre Dame’s own students.”

The Centre will begin running later this year. Lamphier said Notre Dame is undertaking this project in Dublin right now, but added that showing the complementary of faith and reason will follow the university wherever it works.

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