New Catholic university could open this year

Plans well underway for Newman College

A Catholic university for Ireland could be in operation as early as this September, one of the project’s backers has revealed.

Speaking to The Irish Catholic this week, Kathy Sinnott the former MEP who has championed US-backed plans for what will be called Newman College Ireland said “the time is right” for the establishment of such an institution.

“The time has been right for a Catholic university in Ireland for a number of years,” she said, adding “there’s a window of opportunity now and we don’t want to see that close.”

While refusing to be drawn on a projected number for students for a first intake for the proposed Newman College, Ms Sinnott pointed to the example of already established Catholic institutions elsewhere which have grown dramatically from initially small cohorts.

“Many have started small,” she said, “such as Christendom College [in Virginia] which began with an intake of 26” and now has hundreds of students.

Ms Sinnott further revealed that a group has been established in the United States to fundraise both for the Irish university and scholarships for potential students.

“Our hope is that no student will pay more than in any other Irish college,” she said in relation to the question of costs of attendance.

According to a temporary website for Newman College Ireland, the institution will offer “a curriculum primarily in the liberal arts”.

“Modelled on the new American colleges and universities qualifying for membership in the Newman Guide, the college will adhere fully to Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the Apostolic Constitution on Catholic colleges and universities promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1990.” This ensures what the colleges teach is faithful to Catholic teaching.

The site adds that a search for a campus site is ongoing while faculty staff are being recruited.

“The campus will be a residential one, and faculty and staff will be expected to accompany students on their journey to mature Catholic adulthood.”

Referencing the naming of the new university in honour of Cardinal John Henry Newman, Ms Sinnott described as “ironic” the fact that Cardinal John Henry Newman had penned his ‘foundational text’ on Catholic education, The Idea of a University, in Ireland, “but this country has not seen a full Catholic university”.