One the country's top theologians has promised to put the country's largest catholic university at the heart of the community.
In his inaugural address, the new President of Mary Immaculate College in Limerick City, Prof Michael Hayes, spoke of the recent lowering of the College’s boundary walls as a symbol of the College's desire to embrace the community and to re-assert its position at the heart of the city and the wider region.
According to Prof Hayes, who has previously served as Vice-President and Professor of Catholic Pastoral Studies at Saint Mary's University in Strawberry Hill in Twickenham in London, said, “This development is a deliberate attempt to convey in a very visible manner, a number of important messages. The lowering of the wall is intended as a statement that Mary Immaculate College is open for business. It says this place is part of our shared heritage. It says we belong to your community and you are part of ours. It says, come in you are welcome here. This is your space.”
President Hayes reminded his audience that this message was an expression of the vision of Catherine McAuley and the mission of the Sisters of Mercy who co-founded the College in 1898.
As he set out the College development plan, he stressed, in particular, the importance of celebration and asserting the identity of the College in accordance with its founding ethos and the Mercy tradition.
“Re-imagine what it means for Mary Immaculate College to be a Catholic college. Our re-imagining will involve that ongoing search for meaning, the questioning of perceived wisdom in the pursuit for truth.”
Professor Hayes was welcomed to the College by current college trustee and administrator of the diocese of Limerick Fr Tony Mullins.
He said, “Despite the challenges that lie ahead, this gathering of the college community today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the life of Mary Immaculate College, a chapter that will see the college continuing to grow and flourish with greater international links, while continuing to play a pivotal role in third-level education in a more diverse and inclusive Ireland.”
“Under the leadership of Prof Hayes, a renowned academic in the field of theology and religious studies, and with a talented strong team of educators and student leaders, we can have confidence in a future of great promise.”
Prof Hayes was also wished well in his new role by the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn TD who attended the event.