What it’s like to be visited

February 8, 2011 in General, News

Pope Benedict, writing to the people of Ireland last March, said that he intended to ‘hold an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations.’ Laurence Murphy SJ, Spiritual Director in Maynooth, is in the middle of such a Visitation. The Visitor is the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, assisted by the Archbishop of Baltimore and three other bishops, all from the U.S. and all but one of Irish background. During Monday’s Evening Prayer the larger-than-life and extrovert Timothy Dolan kicked off with a warm address to the College community assuring them all that this was intended by the Pope as a help and not something to be feared. Read Laurence’s account below.


Laurence Murphy SJ

I had an interview for about forty minutes with all six members of the team; it was warm and friendly and was confined to rather general questions about the seminary life, but gave me the opportunity to bring up some items which I thought important. They respect that spiritual direction is in ‘internal forum’ and therefore the questions remained at a certain level. It is a fact-gathering visitation; they will report back to a Roman Congregation who eventually will write a report. I can see the value of a group from outside our small country taking a fresh look at what is going on and making suggestions about how things might be done differently.  As you can imagine, they will pick up a lot of information both positive and negative from the interviews with each seminarian as well as with staff members and with priests ordained within the last few years. Today some of the team are going to the Milltown Institute to look at the academic programme and tomorrow two are going to St.Malachy’s seminary in Belfast. We have men in both places! There is no prize for spotting the gaps on the team.