European Third Level Chaplains Gather in Dublin for First Time
Almost 100 third level chaplains from 15 countries are meeting in Dublin this week for the Conference of European University Chaplains 2018. The conference is hosted by CN3 (the Chaplaincy Network at Third Level in Ireland) which includes chaplains from universities. Colleges and institutes of technology across Ireland and Northern Ireland. It is coordinated by the Church of Ireland Chaplains at UCD and Trinity College Dublin, Scott Evans and the Revd Steve Brunn and Sr Bernadette Purcell, Chaplain at IT Tallaght.
The theme of the Dublin conference is ‘Our Ancient Future’ and delegates are exploring what Ireland’s ancient wisdom, traditions and practices can mean for the ministry and service of Chaplains in Europe’s universities.
The conference is based at UCD but has been meeting at a number of locations including DIT Grangegorman, Trinity College Dublin and Glendalough.
The keynote speakers have been Bernadette Flanagan, chair of SpIRE; Pádraig Ó Tuama, poet, theologian and leader of the Corrymeela Community; and Fáinche Ryan, director and assistant Professor in Systematic Theology at the Loyola Institute at Trinity College Dublin. They are drawing on Ireland’s heritage and history which provides a deep well of spiritual insight and wisdom. Workshops and papers are exploring chaplaincy and pastoral care best practice in universities in the global context.
The conference dinner took place in the Astra Hall in UCD yesterday evening (Thursday June 7) when the speaker was Archbishop Michael Jackson. Addressing the Chaplains, the Archbishop observed that chaplaincy was the type of work in where changes in society were felt acutely and often felt first.
He said that one of the assumptions often articulated in youth work is that children were the church of the future and that one of the assumptions often made in church life was that we need to contribute to the common good. He said chaplaincy challenged both of these assumptions saying simply that young people are the society of today, as much as everyone else is, and that chaplaincy enabled religious people and church people to hear and listen to the society which already exists.
He offered a new maxim: listening is the new talking “In Ireland we have reached a position where ‘the public square’ has a self–confidence that no longer wants us with our sense of inherited entitlements. I dare to suggest that mutual conversation – through listening while we talk and talking while we listen – can bring about a rapprochement of respect which will be beneficial to each and to all. Universities and chaplains are strategic to this vision of humility and of adventure,” he stated.
Earlier, Director of Student Services at UCD, Dominic O’Keeffe, said that the role of chaplaincy was crucial to the development of the students. He said the challenge today was making chaplaincy relevant, not just in times of crisis.
The Conference of European University Chaplains (CEUC) is a Christian Ecumenical organisation which aims to promote communication and networking among University Chaplains in Europe and to resource their service. They also promote partnerships between University Chaplains of different denominations and faith groups and engage with issues in third level education, youth, culture and European institutions and represent the concerns and interests of University Chaplains to European and global institutions and church bodies.