Speaking notes of Archbishop Martin at the inauguration of Dr. Daire Keogh as President of St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Friday September 28th.
Our ceremony this afternoon marks a change of President here in Saint Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. I express my personal gratitude and appreciation to the outgoing President Dr. Pauric Travers and my words of welcome, my prayers and good wishes to Dr. Daire Keogh.
But we are gathered not just on the occasion of a change of President. We speak at what I believe is a moment of extraordinary change and opportunity for education in Ireland. We gather knowing that Saint Patrick’s College is and must continue to be at the heart of that change and opportunity, building on its extraordinary history and tradition.
We face a vital moment of opportunity which we, as a nation, cannot afford to miss. Yes, we wish we could face this moment of opportunity at a time when financial resources were more abundant. But there may be a hidden blessing when the economic situation forces us to focus our attention with greater vigour on the real value of working together to face challenge and to carve out a more integrated approach in education at all levels, especially at third level and in teacher training. I know that Saint Patrick’s is determined to develop a special place in the new partnerships which are emerging as a hope for the future.
We have with us this afternoon an outgoing President and a new President. Allow me also to mention the Chairman of our Governing Body, Prof. John Coolahan, also a graduate of this College. Together all three represent the history of this College and the extraordinary contribution that it has made to the Irish people and to Irish society through generations of its graduates. The graduates of Saint Patrick’s College rightly have an extraordinary pride in and loyalty to and affection for this Alma Mater.
This is a College with a long and proud tradition. It represents in that tradition and history what is best in the broad values and heritage of Catholic education. Its future cannot be separated from what is best in its past. That heritage of Catholic education is something which deserves to be kept alive and flourishing and updated into the future. When we talk about what is best in the tradition of Catholic education, we are not talking about a divisive force, but a tradition which can integrate and welcome difference. Welcoming difference and new diversity in Ireland is not about renouncing tradition. Saint Patrick’s is an institution which has shown that future teachers from many backgrounds and with a different views of the future can interact in a fruitful and respectful way and can come away enriched by their contact with the gift and the values which that tradition of Catholic education at its best can bring to reflection on what education is about.
Saint Patrick’s in its future will maintain a special responsibility for training teachers of religious education, not simply in the history or the sociology of religions, but in a conviction which recognises the values which religious education in the variety of our religious traditions can bring.
In that spirit of the heritage of this College may I invite you to pause for a moment and join with me in a prayer for the new President and the future of this College:
May God guide with his wisdom this place and all who belong here,
may God guard you with his glory
may God help you with his mercy
and keep you with his gentle strength
that you may fulfil your responsibilities
within this educational community
in such a way that it becomes a font of blessings.
That all who interact with this place
may grow in the common good
and seek and find
the beautiful way of truth.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.