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Formalising the Loyola Institute in TCD

The Loyola Institute Trust and Trinity College Dublin have announced the signing of a revised Memorandum of Understanding on Thursday 18 June, 2021. Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, the Loyola Trust will continue to support the work of the Loyola Institute and arrangements to facilitate the work and mission of the Institute within a unified school context will be implemented.

The Institute has been part of Trinity since 2012. The new MOU provides the formal framework within which the Institute will operate as part of Trinity’s recently restructured School of Religion.

The mission of the Loyola Institute is to reflect academically on Christian faith, social justice and contemporary culture in the context of the Catholic tradition. In an increasingly diverse and complex society, one of the Institute’s main priorities is to foster religious understanding through ecumenical dialogue and through dialogue between faith and culture.

The Loyola Institute is involved in the teaching of both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Christian Theology and in research on diverse aspects of theological enquiry.

The Loyola Trust represents a number of religious orders: Augustinians, Carmelites, Columbans, Jesuits, Loreto Sisters, Marists, Oblates, and Society of African Missions.

The announcement of the signing was marked in a gathering in Dr Patrick Prendergast’s (the TCD Provost) garden. Speaking there, Fr. Leonard Moloney SJ, the Provincial of the Irish Jesuits, said he believed that the MOU “reaffirms and builds on the worthy and ambitious goals of the original agreement which was to create an institute to engage in critical reflection and scholarly research on Christian faith, on social justice, and on contemporary culture.”

Fr Moloney said this was done by “drawing on the intellectual resources of the Catholic tradition” and he added that this was a mission “to be pursued in dialogue with other faith traditions and in a mutually enriching collaboration with other disciplines and fields of study within the university.”

Trinity’s Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast said he was delighted to announce the new agreement between TCD and the Loyola Trustees, noting that the ” The Institute’s position in the School of Religion reflects Trinity’s commitment to teaching theology in the Catholic tradition and to the central importance of diversity of scholarship in religious studies to a leading research university.”

He noted that speaking personally the day had a resonance for him because “it was in my first year as Provost, back in 2012, that we launched the Loyola Institute in Trinity. That was a historic day: the expansion of our School of Religion to include education and research in the Catholic tradition. We were conscious of the confidence that the Loyola Institute was placing in us. And now, in just six weeks, my term of office will end. I’m glad to be closing the circle, so to speak, formalising the Loyola Institute’s place in Trinity.” Read the full speech below.

A Special Day

Good morning and welcome, everyone, to the Provost’s Garden. A particular welcome to Fr Leonard Moloney, Provincial of the Irish Jesuit Province and to our other Jesuit guests. After more than a year of online launches and signings, it’s a pleasure to be here with you in person, and in the college.

Today is a special day: the signing of the agreement which provides the formal framework under which the Loyola Institute will operate as part of Trinity’s recently restructured School of Religion.

And for me, personally, today resonates because it was in my first year as Provost, back in 2012, that we launched the Loyola Institute in Trinity. That was a historic day: the expansion of our School of Religion to include education and research in the Catholic tradition. We were conscious of the confidence that the Loyola Institute was placing in us.

And now, in just six weeks, my term of office will end. I’m glad to be closing the circle, so to speak, formalising the Loyola Institute’s place in Trinity.

Religion is, together with Philosophy, the oldest School in Trinity, dating back to the foundation in 1592. Originally called Divinity, it was initially only concerned with the education and training of clergy of the Church of Ireland.

In the past half-century, the study of religion in Trinity has been greatly extended. This is reflected in the nomenclature: Divinity became Biblical Studies, and then, after 1978, the non-denominational ‘School of Hebrew, Biblical and Theological Studies’. Later the Department of Religion and Theology joined together with the Irish School of Ecumenics, and in 2012, they were joined by the Loyola Institute. This is now our current School of Religion, which provides teaching in the third monotheistic religion, Islam, and offers modules in world religions, as well as teaching theoretical approaches to the study of religion and embracing Ecumenics, and International Peace and Reconciliation Studies.

The mission of the Loyola Institute is to reflect academically on Christian faith, social justice and contemporary culture, in the context of the Catholic tradition. In our increasingly diverse and complex society, a key priority of the Institute is to foster religious understanding through ecumenical dialogue and through dialogue between faith and culture.

We’re honoured that the Loyola Institute chose Trinity’s School of Religion as the place to further this mission. For almost a decade now, the Institute has contributed to the dynamism and vibrancy of the School, and it is essential to the School’s mission to be a global centre of excellence in religion and theology.

On a societal level, the importance of fostering religious understanding through dialogue between faiths, and between faiths and cultures, cannot be overstated in Ireland and around the world.

Trinity has particular strengths in interdisciplinarity and this is instrumental to furthering the mission of the School of Religion and the Loyola Institute – across the university, significant research is being carried out which is highly relevant to theology, ecumenics, peace studies and religion. And that’s not only research in Arts and Humanities – it’s also in the sciences, including notably environmental science and medicine.

Religion is a fundamental part of people’s lives – it influences so many aspects of social behaviour and of intellectual thought. In Europe, the purpose of the first universities was to study religion and religion remains essential to the academic activities of the university. Yesterday indeed was Bloomsday – a key way to understand Joyce is through his Jesuit formation. It is vital that dialogue remains ongoing – between disciplines as between faiths.

Today we celebrate the Memorandum of Understanding and we celebrate the achievements of the School of Religion together with the Loyola Institute. There are many people to thank:

Professor Brendan Tangney, Current Registrar;
Professor Paula Murphy, Former Registrar;
John Coman, Secretary to the College;
Professor Siobhán Garrigan, Head of the School of Religion and Loyola Professor;
Fr Leonard Moloney, SJ, Provincial of the Irish Jesuit Province, and
Fr Thomas Layden, SJ, chair of the trust of the Loyola Institute

On behalf of the whole university, my thanks to all of you and to your teams. I’m proud of the growth and dynamism in the School of Religion, its range and its reach. I’m proud that it has proved a home to the Loyola Institute and that today we formalise and further strengthen the relationship. As we seek to rebuild society and the university in a post-pandemic world, I know that the research and teaching from this School and Institute will be instrumental.

Thank you.

Provost’s Garden

17 June 2021