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Previous Events | 2013

Prayers for the dead

O‌ur hearts go out this November to the families and friends of three of our students who died tragically in recent months: Enius Batsietsi (Veterinary Medicine), Lisa Morrin (Psychology) and John Madigan (Agricultural Science). Fitting services took place to mark their passing. They remain in our prayers. 

We also remember in prayer all our deceased relatives and friends. We are united with them through 'the communion of saints' which extends beyond the grave and into eternal life. In the Preface for the Dead we read: 

In him, who rose from the dead,
our hope of resurrection dawned.
The sadness of death gives way
to the bright promise of immortality.

Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended.
When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death
we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.

For an enlightening commentary on Christian doctrine concerning death and the afterlife, read: http://www.pastoralliturgy.org/resources/0707LifeIsChangedNotEnded.php

Food4Soul Food4Body - Thanksgiving

Date: T‌hursday 28 November 2013, special Food4Soul, Food4Body event for Thanksgiving

Time: 6.30-7.00pm Ecumencial Prayer Service. 7.00-8.00pm Food and Fellowship. 

Location: St. Stephen's chaplaincy

Remembering the goodness of God and thanking Him, together. 

Great turn-out for this special event marking Thanksgiving and bringing to a fitting closure chaplaincy events for 2013. So much diversity gathered in unity - Christians of various persuasions from places as far away as Avoca in Co. Wicklow and Mayo (!), not to mention our guests from the U.S.A., Brazil, Japan, Malaysia (present in force, as usual!), Poland, France.... not forgetting our many Irish adherents.  

Pope Francis set the scene and context for our humble contribution to the cause of Christian unity in UCD. Here is an extract from his wonderful apostolic exhortion, Evangelii Gaudium, nos. 244-246: 

Ecumenical dialogue

244. Commitment to ecumenism responds to the prayer of the Lord Jesus that “they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). The credibility of the Christian message would be much greater if Christians could overcome their divisions and the Church could realize “the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her children who, though joined to her by baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her”.[192] We must never forget that we are pilgrims journeying alongside one another. This means that we must have sincere trust in our fellow pilgrims, putting aside all suspicion or mistrust, and turn our gaze to what we are all seeking: the radiant peace of God’s face. Trusting others is an art and peace is an art. Jesus told us: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5:9). In taking up this task, also among ourselves, we fulfil the ancient prophecy: “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares” (Is 2:4).

 245. In this perspective, ecumenism can be seen as a contribution to the unity of the human family. At the Synod, the presence of the Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness Bartholomaios I, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Rowan Williams, was a true gift from God and a precious Christian witness.[193]

 246. Given the seriousness of the counter-witness of division among Christians, particularly in Asia and Africa, the search for paths to unity becomes all the more urgent. Missionaries on those continents often mention the criticisms, complaints and ridicule to which the scandal of divided Christians gives rise. If we concentrate on the convictions we share, and if we keep in mind the principle of the hierarchy of truths, we will be able to progress decidedly towards common expressions of proclamation, service and witness. The immense numbers of people who have not received the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot leave us indifferent. Consequently, commitment to a unity which helps them to accept Jesus Christ can no longer be a matter of mere diplomacy or forced compliance, but rather an indispensable path to evangelization. Signs of division between Christians in countries ravaged by violence add further causes of conflict on the part of those who should instead be a leaven of peace. How many important things unite us! If we really believe in the abundantly free working of the Holy Spirit, we can learn so much from one another! It is not just about being better informed about others, but rather about reaping what the Spirit has sown in them, which is also meant to be a gift for us. To give but one example, in the dialogue with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, we Catholics have the opportunity to learn more about the meaning of episcopal collegiality and their experience of synodality. Through an exchange of gifts, the Spirit can lead us ever more fully into truth and goodness.

Life and Eternity - Interfaith event

Thursday 14 November, 4-5.30pm, St. Stephen's chaplaincy.

What does our faith say about the link between earthly life and eternal life? 

This was the theme of our Interfaith gathering which took place one month after the last one - by popular demand! 

Commmon across all faith traditions - at this meeting, there were Christians of various denominations, Muslims (both Shia and Sunni), a Buddhist, a Baha'i and some seekers - is the belief that living a morally good life is rewarded hereafter and that failing to do so can have ultimate consequences. Heaven and hell, reward and punishment, were mentioned in this context. There was an emphasis on God's mercy - which balances his justice - and God's desire that all be saved. Loving God and neighbour, loving God in the neighbour, brings us closer to God so that we more perfectly reflect his image in us; whereas not loving our neighbour and hence failing to love God as he ought to be loved, tarnishes that image. These were just some of the rich ideas shared in this gathering. Our Buddhist friend spoke about reincarnation and the possibility of going up or down the ladder towards nirvana, where Buddha is, depending on how one lives one's life in the present. Our Baha'i friend spoke about the contuinity between this present life where already we reflect the image of God by living God's attributes (of love, mercy, justice, etc.) and the next life where that process of growth into God and into more perfect reflection of his image in us as we get closer to him, continues. Fr. Leon quoted St. John of the Cross - that in the end we will be judged on love, a love that is made very concrete in its demands in Matthew 25 where Jesus asks us to see him (God) and to serve him, in our neighbour: when I was hungry you gave me to eat, when I was thristy, you gave me to drink, when I was naked you clothed me, in prison, you visited me....Insofar as you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. 

The twenty-five or so participants lingered on for quite some time after the formal proceedings ended, thus building up friendships and growing in mutual understanding and respect. 

Memorial Mass

T‌uesday 12 November, 1.05pm, Belfield church.

This Memorial Mass was offered for all our deceased relatives and friends, but particularly also for students and staff of UCD who died over the last year.

We recalled with great sadness two of our students who died by suicide in recent months. May they rest in peace and may God bring comfort and solace to their grieving families. We remembered them very especially at this Mass. 

Multifaith gathering

‌‌Reflections on Poverty

T‌hursday 17 Oct‌ober 2013, United Nations International Day for the eradication of Poverty, became the occasion for the first of our Interfaith gatherings this academic year. 

What wisdom do the faith traditions from which we come offer with regard to world poverty?

About twenty participants rolled up for this interfaith event, including a number of new people. The sharing of wisdom around each tradition's responsibility towards the poor, was most enlightening. Common features included (i) the importance of detachment from material things in order to give God his rightful place in the order of our priorities; (ii) the need to set aside of a portion of our goods for those in need in our community; (iii) the importance of using wealth to benefit others, especially the poor, such that wealth in and of itself is neither good nor bad, but good or bad according to how that wealth is used - to benefit others as well as oneself, or simply to fuel greed. 

A number of people expressed interest in having these enriching encounters at more regular intervals. 

Above: group photo. 

Below: Vijay, Darren, Navien, Carol, Damilola, Yusef, Gillian, Fr. Leon (reading from the Bible), Sana (Baha'i, reading an extract from Bahá'u'lláh), and Matthew. 

Science, 'Dark Energy' and God: What's really going on in the Cosmos?

The Evidence from Contemporary Physics for God. 

Upwards of 50-60 people attended this event. People travelled from Paris, London, Northern Ireland and many other parts of Ireland to hear Fr. Spitzer talk about the reasonableness of faith in God, from a physicist's perspective. He also spoke about the human desire for happiness and the different levels at which this operates, from the lower to the higher - the higher bringing us into self-transcendent altruism, which is a powerful locus of fulfilment or happiness. He also presented the historical evidence for the existence of Jesus and the extraordinary plausibility of his message for all times. The problem of suffering - confronting the oft quoted anomaly of a good and loving God allowing or not withdrawing human suffering - was dealt with sensitively and most personally as Fr. Spitzer spoke about his own struggle with a progressive eye-disease that has robbed him of much sight. His vision, however, as he himself said, remains as sharp and as clear as ever! For a flavour of this extraordinary presenter, see: http://www.magisreasonfaith.org. For a summary of proceedings in UCD, see http://www.catholicireland.net/fr-robert-spitzer/

When: Sat + Sun, 12 + 13 October 2013

Where: Astra Hall, (old) UCD Student Centre, Belfield, Dublin 4.

Time: 9am - 6pm both days. 

Cost per day: Students €5    Others €10. 

Fr. Robert Spitzer is a Jesuit Physicist. He is currently President of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith, USA. His most recent book is: New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy. He has a particular interest also in organisational leadership and is consultant to many Companies including the Boards of Boeing and  Toyota. 

The Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, celebrated Mass on Saturday evening at 5pm, in Belfield church. 

Mass on Sunday, for those participating in the workshop, was at 12.30pm in Belfield church, presided by Fr. Leon (chaplain). 

Below, Fr. Robert doing a phone interview with Fr. Leon (chaplain), Christine, Pádraic and Eamonn in on the act!


What do you think of Christ? (Matt 22:41). 

W‌e resumed our ecumencial gatherings on THURSDAY OCT 10 at 6pm, at St. Stephen's chaplaincy, beginning in the Contemplation Room with a half hour of prayer for Christian Unity and continuing with food and festivities afterwards in the Function Room. UPwards of forty guests attended, with a number of new faces - from Japan and Sweden and of course, Malaysia. 

The purpose of these inter-Christian gatherings is to give united witness to our faith in Jesus Christ and to pray together for the healing of historical divisions, so that Christ's desire - that all may be one (John 17) - may be realised, in time and with the Spirit's help. 

Please do come and join us!

Orientation Week Chaplaincy Welcome 

On Thursday 5 September, 4-5.30pm, UCD chaplaincy welcomed our new students to St. Stephen's (behind 39A bus terminus). Here are some pics of the event. 

UCD Chaplaincy Annual Report 2013

 UCD Chaplaincy Annual Report 2013.pdf

Vocations Evening

 On Thursday, 18 April 2013, at 7pm in St. Stephen's chaplaincy, the Newman Society held its final event of the semester. And what a 'finale' it was! Not in the sense of fanfare and flourish, but rather, in the quiet, contemplative sharing of different vocations' stories, the serene presence of the Lord was felt.  Fergal and Edel shared their story as a married couple, Sr. Felicity as a Religious Sister, Bro. Conor as a young Dominican friar, Fr. Kevin as a diocesan priest and Maria-Anna as a consecrated person and part of  a Secular Institute. 

 It was truly a blessed evening and students were enraptured as they listened and imbibed the beauty and joy of Christian vocation. 

“I have loved you with an everlasting love therefore I have called you." (Jeremiah 31). 

The pic opposite is Caravaggio's 'The Calling of Matthew' which hangs in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome. Jesus is pointing at Matthew, seated with the money-lenders, who then points to himself as if to say, 'Me?' The figure overshadowing Jesus is Peter who is also pointing at Matthew. The suggestion here is that Jesus calls through Peter, i.e. through the Church. 

Farewell Party: Newman Society

Here are some of our friends gathered at St. Stephen's on Thursday 11 April 2013 to celebrate some of the outgoing team: Eamonn, Laura, Annie, Orla and Fred, who have come to the end of their studies here at UCD, at least for the time being. We wish them God's blessing on their future and thank them for their wonderful Christian witness and dedication to the only Catholic Society on campus, the Newman Society. We also wish Christine (fourth from left) well in her new role as auditor. 

Carol, and the delicious cake she baked for the occasion. 

Inter-Christian Worship

An Inter Christian Fellowship event (NewmanSoc, ChristianUnion, Livingstones)

Wednesday, the 3rd of April, 7pm - 'an awesome time of Worship! of different cultures and styles coming together

and also a time of fun, getting to know each other and light refreshments :)'. 

What was unique about this event was that it was a student initiative. The idea of Christian Unity has taken hold and this is the proof of it! Praise God!

The Lord's prayer - that all may be one - is taking wings in UCD! 

Student Retreat 

Location: Glenstal Abbey (Benedictines), Murroe, Co. Limerick 

Dates: 8-10 March 2013

Times: Arrival Friday afternoon 8 March. Departure after lunch Sunday 10 March.

Fourteen brave students entered not only the monastic enclosure, but also the silence of the heart, to face themselves and the good Lord under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, during these few days of retreat.  Fr. Leon offered some suggestions for prayer and made himself available for private consultation throughout the day (Saturday). The group also joined the monks for the Prayer of the Church and for one of the meals, and on the final day, were entertained by a group of visiting singers from Connectucut, U.S.A. to the school and by Nóirín Ní Riain, who captivated her audience with her 'sean-nós' (old style) traditional Irish singing. Students also had the opportunity to visit the icon chapel with Fr. Christopher, guest master, who brought out the rich theology and spirituality behind each masterpiece.  All in all, an experience to be savoured and remembered! 

Here is a flavour of students' comments: "Thanks for guiding me, leading me throughout this wonderful silent retreat. It has been an unforgettable experience for me as I have realised loads of things". "I learned a lot during this retreat. I reflected a lot during this moment of peace". Quote from one of our retreatants: "Behold, my beoloved, I have shown you the power of silence, how thoroughly it heals and how fully pleasing it is to God" (Fr. Ammonas). "Thanks for making this weekend of silence very special. I have really enjoyed it". "I thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted from dandering around the monastery, letting the silence and psalms wash over me!" 

Rev Ken Lindsay, President of Methodist Church in Ireland, visits UCD 

The President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Revd Kenneth Lindsay, visited UCD today (Thursday 28th), accompanied by his wife, Patricia. Mr Lindsay was give a tour of the Veterinary School (including the Veterinary hospital), the National Folklore Archive and the Student Centre. Over lunch, he and Mrs Lindsay met with the chaplains and others associated with the Chaplaincy. Students also joined the party to greet the President over coffee at 1.45pm in St Stephen's.

Mr Lindsay worked for some years as a student chaplain to the Dublin universities and was particularly interested in meeting students, with whom he engaged animatedly after lunch. 

The visit of Revd Lindsay to UCD was organised and hosted by Ms Gillian Kingston, current Methodist chaplain at UCD, in collaboration with the chaplaincy team. 


Round table discussion 

Date: Tuesday 26 February 2013

Time: 7.30pm

Location: St. Stephen's chaplaincy, between 39A terminus and the Engineering building. 

Topics: open-ended! Fr. Leon engaged with the students' questions about the Church's teaching on sex (can we expect changes with a new Pope?!), how we know what the will of God is, the gospel and different spiritualities in the Church, prayer in a busy schedule, etc. 

Feedback from students (about twenty attended) was positive. One student, a newcomer, said it was very enjoyable and really made her think. Another was delighted with 'the deep conversations' evoked by the round-table. Another wrote: 'Thanks so so much for tonight. You were so brilliant, you answered the questions so well and so clearly and gave us so much food for thought! Thanks so much Leon'. 

Thanks should go to the Newman Society at UCD who organised this event ( a 'first') and prepared a much-appreciated plate of sandwiches with tea and coffee for our guests who lingered in conversation for a long while after the formal proceedings ended. Always a good sign of approval!   

Pic of core group of Newman Society: from left: Laura, Eamonn, Fred, Orla, Annie. KangWei, Christine and Carol. 

RTE Radio Sunday Service

On Sunday 17 February 2013, RTE radio (long wave 252) transmitted Sunday Service, recorded in St. Stephen's chaplaincy with the participation of  singers from the UCD Musical Society, a group of UCD students and Fr. Leon (chaplain) and led on behalf of the Methodist Church by Gillian Kingston,  chaplain at  UCD.

The music, the readings and the reflections, centred on the Scriptural themes of this First Sunday of Lent (the Temptations of Christ in the desert), all converged to create a most prayerful and inspiring 45 minutes on radio. We hope our listeners were as uplifted as we were! 

Gillian spoke about 'giving things up for Lent', like chocolate, but suggested that there may be far more important things in which we indulge - such as gossip, jealosy, resentment, lack of charity towards our neighbour - that the Lord may be inviting us to 'give up for Lent'. 

Leon spoke about the need to regroup as Christians in face of an increasingly secular world which has become deaf to God's musical score. Christians of all denominations need to come together to sing God's hymn of praise and thus encourage one another in faith and also help others to attune to God's score. Our ecumenical gatherings in UCD in the beautiful contemplation room inspired by the pre-reformation Sceilig Mhíchíl monastic settlement, give voice to our common desire to make Christ's lyrical presence known in today's world. 


Interfaith Event 

Interfaith Event on Thursday 14 February, 4pm-5.30pm

The date is significant not only in the Christian calendar  (St. Valentine’s Day) but also in the secular world, which celebrates on this day, romantic love.

The feast-day naturally suggests the theme of LOVE!  The word covers a multitude of meanings! And so, it was most enriching for us to hear what each of our faith traditions has to say about love – the true meaning of love, the demands or requirements of love, the measure of love. 

As usual, we came together as friends, to share the riches of our traditions in an atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation.… and, of course, to enjoy each other’s company over light refreshments.

Faiths represented at our gathering: Baha'i, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, Christian (Evangelical, Roman Catholic and others). The centrality of love with its horizontal (love of neighbour) and vertical (love of God) dimensions stood out as common to all faiths. Perhaps the Golden Rule - to do to others what one would wish done to oneself - stood out as a formula we could all identify with. 

Here are some records of the event, capturing also, we hope, something of the joyful relaxation. 

Matthew (Catholic), Gajendra (Sikh) and Moustafa (Muslim) enjoying a moment of camaraderie.  

Orla and Eamonn in Valentine pose!

Natalia (Jewish, far right) and some new faces from Christian Union, enjoying a cup of  tea. 


Ash Wednesday 

Mass times in Belfield church: 12.05pm, 1.05pm, 5.35pm. 

The 1.05pm Mass was sung and was presided by his Grace Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin. Here is his homily which was very well received by students and others: http://www.dublindiocese.ie/content/ash-wednesday-homily

Confessions were available from 11am to 11.45am on Ash Wednesday and will be available in Belfield church every Tuesday in Lent from 11am to 11.45am.

All Masses had a full house. 

Here's a link that opens up possibilities for Lent - a Lent calendar: http://www.xt3.com/lent/

A Religious Life Combatting Homelessness 

Tuesday 5 February 2013. St. Stephen's Chaplaincy. 6.30pm

A joint Newman Soc and SVP UCD event in which Fr Peter Mc Verry S.J. gave a stimulating and challening talk on his work with the young homeless men he comes into contact with.

Among other things, he spoke at length about God's Kingdom on earth as a community of people who love one another and where nobody is in need - the kind of community (Church) the early Christians established (see Acts 2) as a continuation of Christ's work. Peter addressed many other issues such as the legalisation of drugs, homelessness as a political issue (and not just a problem depending on charity to resolve it), the challenge of reform within the Institutional Church, etc.   

Here are some pics of a handful out of the twenty or so students who attended. Laura, far right, introduced Fr. McVerry to the audience. 


International Food UCD Charity Week

To raise funds for the Student Assistance Fund, the Newman Society organised an international food evening at St. Stephen's chaplaincy centre on Wednesday 30 January 2013 at 7pm. 

There was a cover charge of €2 per person. All proceeds - c. €135 - went to the UCD Student Assistance Fund to help students in financial difficulties. 

This was also a great opportunity to practise and exhibit international culinary skills! There was no shortage of food as people brought along their prized dish for everyone to relish! 

Well done to the Newman Society! 

Food4Soul, Food4Body Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

There was a great turn-out for this special Food4Soul, Food4Body event, taking place as it did during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Wednesday 23 January 2013). Represented among the 40 or so participants were Christian Union, Livingstones, Newman Society (the Catholic Society on campus) and others who simply wanted to join us for prayer and fellowship. Ireland north and south was represented, as well as Malaysia (in force!), China, the U.S.A. and various European countries. A wonderful sign, therefore, of unity in great diversity. 

This year's prayer for Christian Unity linked unity with justice - justice, in particular, for Dalits (almost 80% of Indian Christians) who, because of casteism, are socially marginalised and exploited. During this week, Christians from all over the world gather in ecumenical fellowship to reflect on the biblical summons to 'do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God' (Micah 6:8). UCD was part of that wider, global initiative. Our gathering furthered our aspiration, based on John 17 - 'that all may be one' - and encouraged us along the path of Christian unity for which we pray.  

Here are some pics of our friends enjoying the festivities.