The Chancellor of the Pontifical University at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth Archbishop Eamon Martin encouraged participants of the International Federation of Catholic Universities: “Do not to be afraid to celebrate and openly proclaim the ethos of your universities – connected as they are to Christ and to the Church’s mission – to bear much fruit!” (See Zenit.org)
The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland stressed this in his homily during the opening Mass of the 26th General Assembly of the International Federation of Catholic Universities, which was celebrated in the College Chapel of Saint Patrick’s College in Maynooth.
According to its website, the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU), which collaborates actively with the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, began as an initiative of the Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy, and of the Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen in Nijmegen, Netherlands, in 1924 to bring together the Catholic universities in a Federation to discuss specific issues of common concern.
The following year, these endeavors were concretized during a meeting at the Institut Catholique de Paris where 14 universities from the various parts of the world were represented at a first General Assembly, and after the Second World War, the Fœderatio Universitatum Catholicarum took off. It was recognized by a Decree of the Holy See in 1948 and by Pope Pius XII in 1949. In 1965, it became the International Federation of Catholic Universities.
In the homily, the Irish prelate recalled that the federation in these days will engage in a constructive critique of what it means to be a Catholic university, responding to the challenges of the twenty-first century, and that the conference begins with worship.
“I encourage you not to be afraid to celebrate and openly proclaim the ethos of your universities – connected as they are to Christ and to the Church’s mission – to bear much fruit!”
The Archbishop acknowledged that it is a challenging time to be a leader in a Catholic university.
“The world yearns for the Good News – today, more than ever – but Gospel values are often threatened by a popular relativism which questions any appeal to objective truths or stable moral reference points and which even relegates the fundamental right to life itself beneath the right to individual choice.”
This is indeed, he said, a time for believers to become engaged in the new evangelization, and active as missionaries for Christ.
Here in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin shared, there is a tremendous sense of anticipation as they count down the days to the World Meeting of Families and the visit of Pope Francis.
“The theme of the World Meeting is: the Gospel of the Family – Joy for the World!” he reminded, pointing out: “It is a message not only for ‘faith-full’ Catholic families and those who are broadly supportive of the Church, but it is Good News also for those who have become indifferent to faith, and even those who feel excluded or alienated from the Church, rejecting or actively resisting all that we stand for.”
He expressed his hope that all people of goodwill will feel inspired by the events happening all over Ireland to mark the World Meeting.
“In the twenty first century, the ‘vineyard of the Lord,’” he underscored, “cannot remain walled off from the influences and challenges of a fast-paced, multimedia world. This is our time and our space for mission; it is also the context in which your deliberations as a federation of Catholic universities take place. Your challenge – your opportunity for mission – is to network together in solidarity in order to respond to the questions and needs of today’s world – from the local to the global.”
“It is your mandate and your privilege to nourish and equip those who bring the message of Christ into the public sphere.”