Newman College Ireland Graduation 2018 President’s Address
Your Eminence Cardinal Brady, Rev Fathers, Members of our Board of Governors, esteemed faculty, our cherished students, parents and honored guests.
Today marks a milestone in the improbable history of Newman College Ireland. With all the difficulties and challenges over the past four years there were times when many of us, myself included, doubted we could survive. Yet God has faithfully supplied the need and the encouragement.
As you all know, we take our name from Blessed John Henry Newman. His magnificent work on higher education, “The Idea of a University”, is our inspiration and guide. Hence, it was comforting to read a passage from another work of his, “University Sketches”, where he wrote: “Institutions, which are to thrive and last, generally have humble beginnings…”
I think we qualify for this status! Perhaps it is a fitting state to be in because it leaves us praying to God for His support and wisdom. Without Him we are nothing and with Him we shall be what He wills. And so we are audacious, not counting on our own strength and talents, but on His mercy and the wisdom given to the saints that came before us.
What is our purpose? Newman in his seminal work provides a profound blueprint for the education of the whole person, the development of moral virtues as well as intellectual virtues, and the essential place of the study of theology; and beyond theology the whole panoply of treasures of Western Civilization: the literature of Homer and Dante; the philosophy of Augustine and Aquinas; the music of Mozart and Beethoven; the art of Raphael and Michelangelo; the architecture of the Cathedrals.

He then extolls the life of the mind in a Catholic institution of higher learning:
“It is a place where inquiry is pushed forward, and discoveries verified and perfected, and rashness rendered innocuous, and error exposed, by the collision of mind with mind, and knowledge with knowledge. It is the place where the professor becomes eloquent, and a missionary and preacher of science, displaying it in its most complete and most winning form, pouring it forth with the zeal of enthusiasm, and lighting up his own love of it in the breasts of his hearers….”
And closes with:
“It is a place which attracts the affections of the young by its fame, wins the judgment of the middle-aged by its beauty, and rivets the memory of the old by its associations. It is a seat of wisdom, and a light of the world, a minister of the faith, an Alma Mater of the rising generation”.
“Such is it in its idea and in its purpose; such in good measure has it before now been in fact. Shall it ever be again? We are going forward in the strength of the cross, under the patronage of Mary, in the name of Patrick to attempt it.”
We, too, place ourselves under the patronage of Mary, but now under the name of Newman.
In closing, I want to I want to express my gratitude and hopes for you graduates. You have borne patiently with all our shortcomings. You have blossomed in your faith through the sound teaching of our faculty and the abundant sacramental life offered by our priests. You have experienced the joy and comfort of true Christian friendship with your fellow students. As you leave us, I charge you to be witnesses of the faith that has built the Irish nation and fostered the growth of the Church throughout much of the world. Never forget us, and never forget the words of Christ: “to whom much is given, from him much will be expected”.
Thank you all for joining with us in this great adventure.