Presentation Sisters and DCU’s Mater Dei Centre for Catholic Education have announced a three-year partnership to enable research into community-based adult religious education and faith development in Ireland today.
Over three years from September 2018, a postdoctoral researcher based at the Centre will provide a broad picture of current provision in adult religious education in Ireland, conduct quantitative and qualitative research into the educational needs of local faith communities and develop and deliver pilot projects to test new approaches to faith development, working with local faith communities throughout Ireland.
The funding will be provided by the Presentation Sisters, North East Province and the project will be led by Dr Gareth Byrne, Director of the Mater Dei Centre for Catholic Education.
Speaking on the partnership announcement, Dr Byrne explained the context for the research:
“Adult faith development in Ireland has traditionally focussed on the provision of talks and workshops by external experts for committed parishioners who volunteer for ministry. Often there is little provision to encourage adult Christians more generally to deepen their faith experience and to grow into their parish. We tend to continue doing the same things without evaluating how effectively these initiatives contribute to supporting Catholic adults to learn about their faith. This culture of provision means we have little understanding of the reasons for low levels of engagement with formal adult religious education initiatives in Ireland.”
Speaking on behalf of the Presentation Sisters, North East Province, Sr Anne Codd outlined the benefits the order believes will arise from this research partnership:
“This research will provide a broad picture of current practice in adult religious education and faith community development in Ireland today and will provide us with a sense of the strengths and weaknesses of current approaches. We are excited that this project will also seek to develop new models of adult religious education and faith development through a series of pilot projects working on the ground with local faith communities.”
The partnership announcement was made at a conference on ‘The Voices of Young People on Religion and Education’, organised by the Irish Centre for Religious Education, part of DCU’s Institute of Education, on Friday, 8th and Saturday, 9th June on DCU’s St Patrick’s Campus.
Pictured above (L – R): Dr Anne Looney, Executive Dean, DCU Institute of Education; Dr Gareth Byrne, Director of Mater Dei Centre for Catholic Education; Sr Anne Codd, Presentation Sisters, North East Province; and Nathalie Walker, CEO, DCU Educational Trust. (Photo: Julien Behal)
See also the following links: https://www.dcu.ie/materdei-centre-for-catholic-education/news/2018/Jun
and also https://shapingthefuture.dcu.ie/2018/06/11/new-partnership
I am delighted to read of this significant and potentially transformative initiative. As director of the consultaion that led to Share the Good News and author of its text, Gareth Byrne is particularly well placed to lead this research. I salute the on-going commitment of the Presentation Sisters to the best in holistic Catholic education, as witnessed again in their sponsorship of this project. I trust that the significant role of pilgrimage in contributing to adult faith formation will find its place in the research, and I look forward to how the insights may find practical applications. Beir bua agus beannacht!
Fr La Flynn, Prior, Lough Derg.
Many thanks La. overjoyed to read your response. I am particularly pleased that you see the possibility of being part of this exciting development. Of course pilgrimage must feature!