Free Irish Catholic Symposium Held at Loras College March 28-29

Loras College is hosting a free series of presentations and discussions examining the contemporary Irish Catholic Church Friday, March 28 and Saturday, March 29. Split into four unique sessions, The Catholic Church in Ireland Today symposium will include experts from Ireland, the United States and Canada, and will take place in the Marie Graber Ballroom within the Alumni Campus Center.
“Given the extent and speed of changes to the Catholic Church in Ireland during the past decade, it’s surprising that there have been so few opportunities in the United States to meet and discuss what has transpired.  This gathering is unique: not only is it timely, it is designed to reach a very wide audience.  Our speakers are here to share their knowledge but also to stimulate conversation and promote discussion,” said John Waldmeir, Ph.D., Loras College associate professor of religious studies and a symposium co-organizer and speaker.
The keynote session will feature two of Ireland’s foremost experts on contemporary Catholicism: Eamon Maher, Ph.D., director of the National Centre for Franco-Irish Studies at ITT Dublin, author of The Church and its Spire: John McGahern and the Catholic Question; and John Littleton, director of The Priory Institute, Dublin, The Catholic Times weekly columnist and author of Encountering God and Discovering Our True Identity and The Fulfillment of God’s Saving Promise. Maher and Littleton are authors/editors of: Irish and Catholic? Towards an Understanding of Identity; The Dublin/Murphy Report: A Watershed for Irish Catholicism; What Being Catholic Means to Me; and Contemporary Catholicism in Ireland.
“Eamon Maher and John Littleton are two of Ireland’s best known and most influential commentators on Irish Catholicism. The series of books they have edited over the last decade there have really helped shape their country’s conversation on the state of the Church and its future in Ireland. We are very fortunate to have them headlining this event at Loras College,” said David Cochran, Ph.D., Loras College professor of politics and symposium co-organizer.  
The subsequent sessions will include presentations on growing Irish secularism, the changing image of Irish bishops, generational divides in the Church, Catholic migrants to Ireland, the abuse crisis and responses in Ireland and the U.S., Irish missionaries, the political role of Irish priests, the Dublin Eucharistic Congress, contemplative strands in Irish identity and more.


“The Present Condition and Future Directions of Irish Catholicism” | 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • “Faith of our Fathers: A Lost Legacy?” | Eamon Maher, Centre for Franco-Irish Studies, ITT, Dublin
  • “In periculo mortis: Can Irish Catholicism Be Redeemed?” | John Littleton, The Priory Institute, Dublin
  • A response by Jim Rogers, University of St. Thomas and editor of the New Hibernia Review
Session I: “Shifting Identity and Authority” | 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
  • “The Ownership of Catholicism in Contemporary Ireland” | Michele Dillon, University of New Hampshire
  • “’The Second Coming’ and the Emergence of Contemplative Ireland” | Bernadette Flanagan, Dublin City University
  • “Allergies to History: Interpreting the Past at the 2012 Eucharistic Congress” | John Waldmeir, Loras College
Session II: “Politics, Migration, and Catholic Clergy” | 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. 
  • “Cross-Pressures, Politics, and Professional Fatigue: A Study of Catholic Priests in Ireland” | Elizabeth Oldmixon, University of North Texas
  • “God May Not Need a Passport, Priests Do: Exploring the Migration Experience of Polish Catholic Priests in Ireland” | Agata Pińôkosz, University of Toronto
Session III: “International Dimensions” | 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • “Lost in Translation: Bill Donohue and the Irish Clerical Abuse Scandal” | Matt O'Brien, Franciscan University of Steubenville
  • “From Fr. Jack to Fr. Sean: How Irish Missionaries are Reshaping and Revitalizing Irish Catholicism”  Andy Auge, Loras College
This event is underwritten by William Lynch (’63), Loras College regent emeritus and former Leo Burnett CEO, and sponsored by the Loras Archbishop Kucera Center for Catholic Intellectual and Spiritual Life, the Loras College Program in Irish Studies and the Dubuque Sisters of the Presentation. All symposium sessions are free and open to the public.  For more information, please visit or email  or
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