This year’s publication of the seminary magazine Síolta has taken as its theme Green Shoots and I am delighted to convey a word of welcome to you as a friend, supporter or member of the community of faith, education and formation that is St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth. This year’s Síolta bears witness to the strong tradition of excellence that is a hallmark of St. Patrick’s College. On this splendid campus, we pray, work and journey together as pilgrims in faith, united in a lively sense of confidence and hope in the current and future mission of the Pontifical University and the National Seminary. Challenges exist and opportunities abound in and through which seminarians, students, staff and supporters both plant and steward seeds of the Gospel in ordinary and sometimes extraordinary ways.
Since taking up my appointment as Rector on 1st August 2018, St. Patrick’s College has embarked on a new path because for the first time in its almost 225-year history, the roles of President and Rector have been made autonomous. This means that both offices are given enhanced freedom to give focused attention to the work of fulfilling the mandate of this college going forward. That is, to draw from the rich well of Scripture and Tradition the resources needed to educate and form a new generation of Catholic Leaders (both priests and lay leaders) for the Church in Ireland and further afield.
Next year will see this college celebrate the 225th anniversary of its foundation. Since 1795, over 11,000 men have been prepared for ordination to the priesthood and thousands of lay students have gone forth from here to work as Religious Educators, Catechists, Pastoral Assistants, Philosophers and Theologians, making an invaluable and lasting contribution to the work of evangelisation and planting seeds of hope everywhere they have gone.
Green shoots abound: strong collaboration between the Pontifical University and the National Seminary; a fruitful working relationship with Maynooth University; enhanced communication with stakeholders; the strong support of the Trustees and wider Episcopal Conference and its offices, commissions and councils; the presence of Trócaire, the National Centre for Liturgy and the National Office for Safeguarding Children; the annual Carol Service and College Chapel Concerts; the live televised broadcast of the celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday and the Easter Vigil by RTÉ and Kairos Communications. These are just some of the constitutive elements which make SPCM a safe and stable environment for the formation of future priests and Catholic lay leaders within a dynamic hub of Catholic education and formation which concretely, imaginatively and energetically serves the mission of the Church on this island after the example of Patrick, Brigid, Colmcille and thousands of Irish men and women who have enabled the light of Christianity to shine in times of darkness and doubt.
St. Patrick’s College will continue to be at the forefront of the evangelisation adventure and at its heart is a faith-filled, prayerful, hard-working and purposeful seminary community which arises each day in the name of the Risen Lord to pray, study, recreate and bear witness to the joy that comes from being a disciple of Jesus Christ, called to configure one’s life to his, thus becoming an icon of that self-emptying love and creativity which is the Holy Trinity.
I warmly commend and congratulate all who have made this year’s edition of Síolta possible. May green shoots produce a bountiful harvest to the glory of God and the honour of St. Patrick.
Fr. Tomás Surlis Rector
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