Saturday, 17th August 2019

Ministry of Acolyte 2018

Posted on 24. May, 2018 by in Carousel

Bishop Patrick Walsh, Mr Colm Hagan. Credit for Images: Fr Damian Szewczyk

On Wednesday 23rd May 2018 Mr Colm Hagan, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Armagh, was conferred with the Ministry of Acolyte by Bishop Patrick Walsh, Bishop-Emeritus of the Diocese of Down & Connor. 

The Ministry of Acolyte is the second ministry received by those preparing for ordination as a deacon and priest. The first ministry is Lector. Prior to ordination as a deacon seminarians enter Candidacy, the third step on the journey towards ordination. 

Mr Colm Hagan pictured with Bishop Patrick Walsh as well as seminarians and staff of the Pontifical Irish College. Credit for Images: Fr Damian Szewczyk

According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, §98, “the acolyte is instituted to serve at the altar and to assist the priest and deacon. In particular, it is his responsibility to prepare the altar and the sacred vessels and, if it is necessary, as an extraordinary minister, to distribute the Eucharist to the faithful. In the ministry of the altar, the acolyte has his own functions (cf. nos. 187-193), which he must perform personally.”


Columbans’ Centenary

Posted on 19. May, 2018 by in Carousel

Fr Kevin O’Neill, Superior General of the Missionary Society of St Columban, presiding at Eucharist for the Centenary of the Society, 18th May 2018. Credit for images: Augustus Aikins

On Friday 18th May 2018 the Pontifical Irish College welcomed members of the Missionary Society of St Columban, along with friends and supporters of the Society, to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of papal recognition of the society, granted on the feasts of Ss Peter and Paul, 29th June 1918. The current Superior General of the Society, Fr Kevin O’Neill, presided at a celebration of the Eucharist.

Fr O’Neill was joined in the concelebration by many Columbans, as well as the Rector of the Pontifical Irish College, Msgr Ciarán O’Carroll, Bishop Noel Treanor of the Diocese of Down & Connor, Bishop Patrick Walsh, Emeritus of the same diocese, Don Mario Poggi, Chancellor of the Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio, staff and post-graduate priests of the Irish College, as well as priests from Beijing, Australia, and across the city of Rome.

The Irish Ambassador to the Holy See, H.E. Emma Madigan, was joined by other members of the diplomatic corps, including H.E. Sally Axworthy, British Ambassador to the Holy See, H.E. Melissa Hitchman, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, H.E. Matthew S.M. Lee, Ambassador of the Republic of China to the Holy See, H.E. Baek Man Lee, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Holy See, and H.E. Grace Relucio Princesa, Ambassador-designate of the Republic of the Philippines to the Holy See. 

Many friends of the Columbans participated in the Liturgy, including many religious sisters, brothers and priests. The seminarians of the Irish College served the Mass as well as providing the liturgical music. 

Msgr Ciarán O’Carroll, Rector of the Pontifical Irish College, receives a relic of St Columbanus from Fr Mario Poggi of the Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio. Also pictured are Bishop Noel Treanor, Bishop Paddy Walsh, and Fr Kevin O’Neill. Credit for images: Augustus Aikins

At the conclusion of the celebration the Rector of the Irish College was presented with a relic of St Columbanus to be kept at the Irish College for the veneration of the community and the faithful who gather regularly for the celebration of the Eucharist. 

What follows is the homily delivered by Fr Kevin O’Neill, Superior General of the Missionary Society of St Columban, during the Eucharist celebrated to mark the centenary of the Society. 


Centenary Eucharist – Irish College, Rome 2018

Thank you everyone for coming to celebrate this Eucharist of thanksgiving on the occasion of the Centenary of the Foundation of the Missionary Society of St Columban. In this Eucharist we give thanks to God for God’s steadfast love and fidelity and for the many blessings received through the Missionary Society of St Columban’s participation in God’s mission over the past 100 years. We give thanks for the blessings our Society has received through the friendships and collaboration in mission we have experienced with so many across the world.

During this Centenary Year, in a spirit of gratitude, we give thanks for what has been, with passion we celebrate our mission today, and with hope look forward to our unfolding participation in God’s mission into the future.

We give thanks to our founders Frs Edward Galvin and John Blowick for their missionary zeal and vision to found our Society. They met many challenges along the way. Their spirit is with our Society today, supporting us, and guiding us as we face the challenges of our times in our service of the Reign of God.

Millions of Chinese to be won for Christ! That was the prize that enchanted a small group of Irish secular priests, who were the prime movers in initiating what was initially named The Maynooth Mission to China, and later became the Missionary Society of St Columban. It is fitting on this occasion to recall some of the story that lead to the founding of our Society.

In 1911, Canadian Fr. John Fraser, who later founded the Scarboro Foreign Mission Society in Canada, gave a talk at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland, about his life as a missionary in China. Fr. John Blowick, was a student at the time, and was present at the talk. Three other students, who later also became Columbans, were also present.

Fr. Edward Galvin, also a former student at Maynooth, who later became Bishop of the Hanyang Diocese in China, met the same Canadian missionary in New York, a year later, in 1912. At the time Fr. Galvin was a young Irish priest on loan from his home diocese of Cork to the Diocese of Brooklyn. It was after this encounter that Galvin decided to go to China. Four years later, in 1916, desperate for help, and knowing that he had somehow to find a source of manpower and funds in Ireland to guarantee the future of the project in China, Galvin went back to Ireland. He was put in contact with Fr. John Blowick and others, with the idea of setting up a Missionary Society for China. At that time Fr Blowick was teaching Moral Theology at Maynooth. Later that same year, on October 10th, 1916, the Bishops of Ireland gave approval for the new missionary endeavor.

It is said that “the bishops were rejoiced and thankful to God for this new and striking evidence of the continued life of the ancient Irish missionary spirit.” Shortly after the Irish Bishops’ approval, professors from Maynooth, together with priests and sisters from religious orders, and almost every diocese in Ireland, helped in the nationwide appeals to raise funds for the new Society.

Fr Robert McCulloch, Procurator General of the Missionary Society of St Columban pictured with Fr John Coughlan, Director of Formation at the Pontifical Irish College. Credit for images: Augustus Aikins

Cardinal Logue in Ireland forwarded the decision of the Irish bishops to the Vatican through Monsignor Michael O’Riordan, the Rector of the Irish College in Rome. Monsignor O’Riordan presented the letter in December 1916 to Progaganda fidei. There was no response. In May of the next year, 1917, Monsignor O’Riordan sent a message back to Fr Blowick in Ireland, ‘Come out and come quickly’. Fr Blowick later discovered that someone had reported to Rome that the new mission was merely an excuse for Irish priests who did not wish to join the British army, “they said we weren’t genuine missionaries at all. We were just a bunch of Irish priests who were providing a decent front for priests that didn’t want to go to the army”. Frs Blowick and Galvin arrived in Rome in July 1917. With the help of Monsignor O’Riordan, his vice-rector Fr John Hagan, and letters from Cardinal Logue, the two young priests convinced Propaganda that the undertaking was bona fide and real. The Cardinal prefect of the Congregation handed them letters for Cardinal Logue and the Irish bishops welcoming the founding in Ireland of a college for Foreign Missions”. The Cardinal prefect added that Pope Benedict XV gave “his most cordial approval of it, and desired me to add in his name a wish that the new work might be started with alacrity”.

On the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, June 29th, 1918, two years after the Irish Bishops’ approval, the Maynooth Mission to China was formally erected by Thomas O’Dea, the Bishop of Galway. This day was thus marked as the Foundation Day of our Society.

Before the Collegio San Colombano was built in Rome in 1933, and the appointment of permanent procurators, our Society continued to rely on the help so generously given to us by the Rectors of the Irish College. It is more than likely that our Co-founders were guests of the College back in 1917. We are grateful this evening for the kind invitation and warm welcome of the Rector of the Irish College, Monsignor Ciarán O’Carroll, of the priests, staff and students. It is a joy to be here in this chapel in Rome to celebrate our Centenary and to thank you for the role this college played in the foundation and early history of our Society across the world, and for the friendship and support we have had, and continue to have, over the past Century.

Since the first hearty welcome into the dioceses across Ireland the Society has been welcomed into numerous dioceses around the world as we helped to establish local churches, fostering in these churches an awareness of their missionary responsibility, principally in the areas of justice, peace, and care for Creation, while promoting dialogue between Christians and those of other religious traditions, and facilitating interchange between these churches. We believe the local people themselves have the responsibility for bringing the faith alive in their culture but missionaries have a role to play in setting up the conditions which make such inculturation possible. This ancient Irish missionary spirit, referred to by the Bishops of Ireland when they approved the setting up of the new Society, has its roots in the great missionary monks of Ireland one of whom was Saint Columban, who is the Patron Saint of our Society.

The Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of St Columban was established in 1924. The founders of the Congregation were Fr. John Blowick and Lady Frances Moloney, who later became Mother Mary Patrick. Both the Society and the Congregation were founded for Mission in China. Since the 1950s the Society has been blessed to have diocesan priests work with us on mission. In response to the spirit of Vatican II, with its awakening to the church being missionary by its very nature and so all Christians are called to mission, our Society enhanced our programs for the formation and education of the laity in the local churches where we work; we also invited lay people to join us on mission leading to the establishment in 1990 of the Columban Lay Missionaries. Today, Columban missionaries across the world are blessed to mirror the face of God from different nationalities.

The first group of Columbans went to China in 1920. On going to China, Bishop Galvin said: “It was a mad thing to do”. He also said “We are not here to convert the Chinese but to do the will of God” – quite a remarkable insight into mission for a man of his time. With God’s grace, and God’s gift of missionary imagination, Columban missionaries and co-workers, over the past 100 years, have listened to the word of God, have discerned the “signs of the times” through the movement of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church and in the world, and responded courageously and creatively to do the will of God.

Like all missionary disciples of Jesus we promote the message of Christ and not ourselves, remembering the motto of St Columban (Christi simus non nostri) Let us live for Christ and not for ourselves”. Like St Columban, we too are pilgrims for Christ. In our lives as missionaries we have learned the truth of St Columban’s words: “A life unlike your own can be your teacher”. The many people of different nationalities and cultures we have been blessed to serve and to live among have become our teachers.

Columban missionaries, have and continue to, enter into a given cultural context sharing life with the people among whom we live and serve. We deliberately choose to locate ourselves among those most in need, the poor and abandoned of our world, and strive to live in solidarity with them through a companionship of empowerment. We encourage people, and walk with them on their faith journey, and in their struggle to change the unjust structures that keep them poor and on the margins of society, as together we care for the Earth, our common home, inspired by the words of St Columban in his First Sermon when he said: “If you want to know the Creator you must first know his creation.” The source of our witness and actions is our faith in Jesus. We desire to mirror in our own lives the pattern of Jesus’s life, helping people of all faiths, or no faith, to gain their dignity as sons and daughters of God, loved by God. As Pope Francis says in his encyclical Laudato Si’ we seek to “listen to and heed the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”.

When St Columban stood against the powers that be, he spoke fearlessly, with great courage. He paid dearly for his stance. He had to endure the heartbreak of being expelled from his beloved companions and his earliest three monasteries in France. Columban missionaries, over the past 100 years have shared something of his experience. All of our members were expelled from China in 1952; all had to leave Burma in 1979; individuals were expelled from Fiji, from Chile, from the Philippines and from Taiwan down through the years. Many were interned during several wars and others survived years of solitary confinement in China. Others endured torture, being kidnapped and falsely imprisoned. Columbans went and stayed with the people in violent times of dictatorships, military regimes and terrorism. A number of our priests and sisters suffered violent deaths in mission lands. They paid the ultimate price. Many Columban priests, sisters and lay missionaries left this world too soon. They were buried by the people who loved them and whose country was their home. We remember them as we do all the Columban missionaries who have gone before us. We thank God for their missionary witness and for their protection we experience in this earthly life from their place in eternal life.

We pray for our benefactors. For 100 years they have been generous in their support of our Society. Without their prayers and generosity we would not be celebrating our Centenary.

As we approach the great Feast of Pentecost, we pray that people will continue to respond to the Holy Spirit’s invitation to be missionaries in our world today. We ask our Patron St Columban to pray for all missionaries throughout the world. The missionary spirit of our Co-founders, Frs Edward Galvin and John Blowick, all Columban missionaries and the people among whom they lived and served, who have gone to God, inspires us today and fills us with hope as we continue to respond generously to God’s call as missionary disciples of Jesus, sharing gospel joy in our world today.

Sant’Egidio Community Lunch with Guests 2018

Posted on 01. May, 2018 by in Carousel

Comunità di Sant’Egidio, 1st of May Celebration – Images courtesy of Tino Veneziano

On the 1st of May, Memorial of St Joseph the Worker, also the festa del lavoro here in Italy, the College hosted approximately four hundred guests as well as volunteers for Mass followed by lunch.

The Chief Celebrant for Mass was the Papal Almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski. 

Archbishop Konrad Krajewski – Images courtesy of Tino Veneziano

This time of prayer and shared meal has gradually become an annual occasion on the Irish College Calendar. It is an opportunity for us, seminarians and priests, to minister alongside the members of the Comunità di Sant’Egidio here in Rome. Many of the seminarians at the College complete a pastoral placement with the Comunità during their time of formation in the city. 

For more images from the day please click here. 


Visit of Gospel Choir

Posted on 30. Apr, 2018 by in Carousel

The Gospel Choir of Our Lady of Victories – Images courtesy of Ciaran Butler

The Gospel Choir of Our Lady of Victories Parish, Ballymun Road, Dublin, visited the Irish College on Sunday 29th April. The director of the Gospel Choir, Ciaran Coll, wrote a new Responsorial Psalm for the occasion, dedicating it to the seminarians of the Pontifical Irish College. Ciaran is pictured below presenting his composition to the Rector of the Irish College, Msgr Ciarán O’Carroll. For more information about Our Lady of Victories Gospel Choir please click here

Msgr Ciarán O’Carroll, Fr Fintan Gavin, Mr Ciaran Coll – Images courtesy of Ciaran Butler

Lenten Charity Presentation

Posted on 23. Apr, 2018 by in Carousel

L to R: Ms Francesca Piana, on behalf of Lasallian World Projects; Msgr Ciarán O’Carroll, Rector; Mr John O’Laverty & Mr Mark O’Brien, Charity Officers

On Sunday 22nd April, the College community presented the proceeds of our Lenten Charity Collection to Ms Francesca Piana on behalf of Lasallian World Projects, the charity chosen by the College community this year. The total amount raised was €3,400. This was achieved in a number of ways: contributions from all residents of the College, from the Sunday congregation, through raffles at the St Patrick’s Day celebrations, and through our “Fasting Friday” initiative throughout Lent. This proceeds will go towards the building of a new secondary school in India. More information can be found here

College Gita to Genazzano

Posted on 16. Apr, 2018 by in Carousel

Mother of Good Counsel – Prayer Card from Genazzano

Prayer to Our Lady of Good Counsel – Prayer Card from Genazzano

On Sunday 15th April the whole College community made a gita to the Shrine of Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel, in the town of Genazzano, about an hour’s drive from the centre of Rome. The afternoon’s itinerary included a visit to the Castello Colonna, the ancient seat of the Colonna family and, for a time, the Borgia family. The town of Genazzano was famous for contributing a significant portion of its revenues to the building of the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome. The Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel was built in the 13th century to recognise the town’s commitment to the great Roman Basilica of Mary. Later, in the 15th century, the image of Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel, is said to have miraculously appeared in the Church. Over the generations since many Popes have had great devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel. 

During our pilgrimage the Rector reminded us all, seminarians and priests alike, that what are needed today in the Church are seminarians and priests of virtue, men who live at the higher level. He exhorted us to pray fervently to Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel, for the help that we need when making important decisions, for the assistance we need to live lives of virtue. 









Silver Jubilee Class 1993-2018

Posted on 11. Apr, 2018 by in Carousel

The Pontifical Irish College Silver Jubilee Class of 1993

On April 10th 2018, with joy and hope, the Rector and community of the Pontifical Irish College welcomed back the Silver Jubilee class of 1993. 

Fr Declan Hurley of the Diocese of Meath, and administrator of St Mary’s Parish, Navan, presided at a celebration of the Eucharist with the whole College community. In his homily Fr Declan reflected on the “yes” that each member of the 1993 class had made to the Lord in answering the call of the priesthood. He reminded us that it is only by God’s grace that we are able to make our own yes to the Lord and that, while we may make that yes naively at first, eventually, and by God’s grace, our yes is perfected and brought to fruition. 

Ordination to Diaconate 2018

Posted on 03. Apr, 2018 by in Carousel

Anthony Briody and Declan McGeehan lie prostrate before the Altar in the Basilica of St Prassede during Easter Tuesday’s Mass of Ordination to the Diaconate (Credit for Photo: John Briody)

Two seminarians of the Pontifical Irish College, Rome, were ordained deacons on Easter Tuesday by Bishop Alan McGuckian, SJ, at the Basilica of St Prassede in Rome.

Rev. Anthony Briody, a former Human Resources Manager, was ordained for Raphoe Diocese, while Rev. Declan McGeehan was ordained for Derry Diocese.  Both men are transitional deacons, meaning that they are due to be ordained to the priesthood later. In recent years in Ireland, permanent deacons have also been ordained, so that deacons have become a more familiar presence exercising a unique ministry in the Church.

Deacons are ordained to a ministry of service, with a special concern for the poor and those in need. They also carry out various sacramental and liturgical roles in the name of the Church, such as baptising, assisting at the altar and reading the Gospel at Mass, preaching, presiding at certain occasions of prayer and at parts of wedding and funeral liturgies.

From L to R: Fr Tom Norris, Rev. Robert Smyth, Fr Paul Finnerty, Rev. Declan McGeehan, Fr John Coughlan, Bishop Alan McGuckian, Bishop Philip Boyce, Fr Joseph Briody, Rev. Anthony Briody, Fr Paul Gitter, Rev. Seán Mulligan, Msgr Ciarán O’Carroll (Credit for Photo: John Briody)

Family members and friends of the new deacons travelled from Ireland to be present at the ceremony. They were joined by seminarians from a number of other seminaries in the city who served the ordination Mass at the Basilica of St Prassede.

The Basilica was rebuilt in the ninth century and contains “the remains of Praxedes (Prassede), her sister, and innumerable martyrs.”

In his homily for the occasion, and drawing on the Gospel of Easter Tuesday, Bishop McGuckian reminded the two candidates of Mary Magdala’s capacity to follow the Lord even when it seemed as though all was lost. The Bishop exhorted the two new deacons to live a lifelong commitment to diaconal service especially after ordination as priests.

Holy Week and Easter 2018

Posted on 22. Mar, 2018 by in Carousel

The following are the times for the liturgies at the Pontifical Irish College for Holy Week and Easter 2018. All are welcome.

Holy Thursday, 29th March: Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 18.00.

Good Friday, 30th March: Celebration of the Lord’s Passion at 15.00.

Holy Saturday, 31st March: The Easter Vigil at 21.00.

Easter Sunday, 1st April: Mass at 10.00

Easter Tuesday, 3rd April: Ordination to Diaconate of Anthony Briody and Declan McGeehan at 10.00am in the Basilica di Santa Prassede, Via di Santa Prassede, 9, Rome.

St Patrick’s Day 2018

Posted on 11. Mar, 2018 by in Carousel

The Church of St Isidore, Rome

The annual St Patrick’s Day Mass for the Irish in Rome and all those devoted to St Patrick will be celebrated at St Isidore’s Church, Via degli Artisti, 41, on Saturday, 17th March 2018 at 10.00am. (There will not be Mass at the Irish College that day.) To view the location of St Isidore’s Church on the map, click here.

In the evening, the College community welcome you to a Ceiliúradh, a celebration of Ireland and St Patrick. You are invited to gather at the College at 6pm. Evening Prayer will be celebrated at 6:30pm followed by an evening of song, poetry and “craic”. Please send an email to if you intend to join us on the evening.