Cardinal Seán Brady presents NOSTRA Theology Scholarships in St John’s Cathedral, Limerick

22 Aug 2009

22 August 2009

Cardinal Seán Brady presents NOSTRA Theology Scholarships in St John’s Cathedral, Limerick

I encourage the study of theology to enhance our faith journey – Cardinal Brady

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, will today (22 August 2009) present NOSTRA scholarships to enable adult learners to study theology at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.

The scholarships, worth €700 each, have been generously provided by the Sisters of Mercy and are administered by the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Mary Immaculate College.  They have been made available to people in the dioceses of Limerick, Killaloe, Cork and Ross, Cloyne, Kerry and the Church of Ireland Diocese of Limerick, Killaloe and Ardfert.

Cardinal Brady will present four of the recipients with their scholarships after Mass this evening in St John’s Cathedral, Limerick.  The celebration of Mass is part of a major international conference organised by the European Society of Catholic Theology in Mary Immaculate College, the theme of which is ‘Eager Longing of Creation – Interdisciplinary Theological Perspectives on Ecology and Economy’.

Cardinal Brady said “I am delighted with the success of the NOSTRA programme which is now in its fourth year.  This modular programme gives lay people an opportunity to study theology in a manner which fits comfortably into their busy lives.

“On this happy occasion I warmly congratulate the recipients of these theology scholarships.  I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage others to consider studying theology as part of their own faith journey.  As the science of the Christian faith, theology has so much to offer to enhance the life of each one of us.

“Nowadays parish pastoral activity is diverse and demanding.  Such involvement includes ministry of welcome, baptismal teams, Ministers of the Word, Ministers of the Eucharist, Children’s Liturgy, finance committees and parish councils.  An understanding of theology will enhance the success of our pastoral mission and NOSTRA is an excellent example of a programme which has been designed to be as accessible as possible for those who wish to study theology.     

“I wish to acknowledge the vision of Professor Peadar Cremin, President of Mary Immaculate College, who has supported the NOSTRA programme from the outset and Professor Eamonn Conway and his staff at the Department of Theology and Religious Studies for their leadership and support of the programme.  I also wish to acknowledge the financial support offered by the partners of the programme: the Sisters of Mercy, the Benedictines of Glenstal Abbey, the Presentation Brothers, Mary Immaculate College, the Dominican Fathers, the Diocese of Limerick and the Shannon Consortium’s ‘strategic innovation fund’.  Their generosity has and will continue to create many opportunities for people and communities in the region.”

Rev Professor Eamonn Conway, Head of Theology said that the programme brings together much of the finest theological resources and talent in the Mid-West and much of the course is delivered in partnership with a number of religious organisations in the area.

“The students here today have been presented with a great opportunity.  This is one of the most innovative and flexible courses on offer which enables students to study at their own pace and select the modules that most closely match their interests and needs.  Each recipient has his or her own story to tell in relation to why they want to study theology.  We weren’t just looking for people with a desire to learn.  We wanted to assist people who see the course as an opportunity to do something they’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t.  I’d like to congratulate the people here today and wish them well in their studies,” said Professor Conway. 


Notes for Editors

The following recipients will receive scholarships and the remaining recipients will be announced over the coming weeks:

  • Church of Ireland Bishop of Limerick, Killaloe and Ardfert, Dr Trevor Williams to receive the scholarship which will be granted to a Church of Ireland nominee.
  • Mr Justin Considine of Ballincollig, Co Cork (Diocese of Cork and Ross).  Justin is a proud Cork man from Ballincollig.  He is the third eldest of a family of seven and left school at the age of 16 to work in the construction industry.  “I have always wanted to return to education and recently attended a course at Glenstal Abbey which introduced me to NOSTRA.  I’m honoured to have been awarded a scholarship and look forward to continuing with my studies.  I know that the Programme will allow me to choose the modules of most interest to me and that suit in terms of time and location,” he said.
  • Mr Philip Hegarty of Castlemartyr, Co Cork (Diocese of Cloyne).  A graduate of University College Cork Philip left Ireland to study for a PhD in Organic Chemistry as part of a project funded by the European Union and the University of Reading.  Philip then worked at University College London as a Zeneca Research and Teaching Fellow before becoming a lecturer at the University of York.  Philip retired due to ill health in 2000 and now lives with his wife Margaret in Castlemartyr.  “The highlight of my day is to attend daily Mass in our local church.  I continue to experience the healing power of the Sacraments and also the healing power of Eucharistic Adoration.  This scholarship will be of tremendous benefit to me as it will broaden my knowledge of theology and introduce me to new perspectives from a range of teachers and writers,” he said.
  • Ms Martha Whitsell of Killarney, Co Kerry (Diocese of Kerry).  Martha has been a professed lay Franciscan for nearly three decades, a way of life that has nourished her spirituality and her sense of commitment to the community in which she lives.  While she had thought and dreamt about the possibility of one day working as a lay chaplain, suddenly in July of this year after more than three decades working professionally as a buyer/planner in industry and more recently as a retail buyer in the construction sector, she found herself redundant due to the downturn in the construction industry.  This Scholarship has afforded her the opportunity to follow her hearts desire by studying at night.  Martha feels that this course will help give her the gentle start she needs as she embarks on this pathway of her life.  She said: “Life’s a journey and I am looking forward with anticipation to this experience and course of study.  With small steps great things may happen for me, but only if its God’s plan for me.  I’m still actively seeking work in the area of administration/purchasing as work is a huge part of my life and participation in the workforce is essential to living.”
  • About the NOSTRA Programme:
  • NOSTRA stands for New Openings in the Study of Theology and Religion for Adults, see  In 2005 the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick launched a programme of adult education to enable adult learners to pursue an accredited, certified course of study in a manner that is flexible and adaptable to their lifestyle.  Known as the NOSTRA Programme, adult learners are able to undertake a Certificate in Theology and Religious Studies.  Learners choose from a range of modules those which most closely match their interests and requirements and complete them at a time and pace that best suits their lifestyle.  Modules are offered in a variety of ways and can be completed over a series of week nights, weekends or summer schools.  Each completed module earns the student a number of credits which they put towards their final certificate.  There is no time limit or deadline for achieving the Certificate which requires a total of 30 credits.

Further information:
Martin Long, Director of Communications (086 172 7678)