Report: Archbishop Dolan to recommend closing Ireland’s Maynooth Seminary

The Irish Catholic newspaper reports that 216-year old Maynooth College (the Ireland’s largest Catholic seminary) may be shut down because of serious academic deficiencies and other formation-related problems:

Maynooth College may soon cease to function as a Catholic seminary marking the end of a 200-year-tradition, The Irish Catholic has learned.

The national seminary, which has educated Irishmen for the priesthood since 1795, may be set for closure after the recent Apostolic Visitation by New York’s Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan. It is expected the report will recommend that Pope Benedict XVI move all Irish seminarians to a reformed and restructured Pontifical Irish College in Rome.

The historic shift would bring an end to concerns about falling academic standards at Maynooth and claims by some that the college in no longer ‘fit for mission’. One senior academic told The Irish Catholic that the Apostolic Visitors were ”appalled” by some of the standards in Maynooth. Rome would give access to heavyweight universities under direct scrutiny from the Vatican.

It is understood the plan would include the Irish College in Rome dramatically reducing the number of non-Irish students enrolled in the seminary to make way for the seminarians from Maynooth.

The Irish college would also have to be reformed to take account of an expected raft of recommendations from Archbishop Dolan’s report.

During his visitation to Maynooth, Archbishop Dolan requested from moral theology lectures copies of class notes and presentations to students to assess the suitability of the content. A wholesale move to Rome would address concerns that some of the theology taught at Maynooth is not sufficiently orthodox for future priests. . . . (continued)



  1. Bobby Simon

    Not good. Maybe we should shut down the Vatican also. It is expensive and no one seems to listen to our Decendant of Peter. Look at the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines and find out how they managed to stay alive for 400 years.

  2. Jennifer Kehoe

    I have great faith in Archbishop Dolan’s advice, Maynooth has been churning out bland (at best) priests throughout MY lifetime and a new injection of well formed and faithful holy priests will bear great fruit in this country which is suffering the sad effects of weakly formed priests. This really is hopeful news. On another note I hope they do an apostolic visitation to the Irish College on Rome too.

  3. shane

    Part of the problem is that Maynooth is governed by the Irish bishops collectively, which makes it difficult to get agreement for reforms. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Vatican decided to close it.

    Sadly Maynooth these days is a liberal hellhole (not as bad as in the 70s but still bad). Sending students to Rome for their formation would do them wonders.

  4. John

    This is sad but manifestly necessary. We need wee-formed courageous priests, not ill-formed apologetic ones. Rome will do them wonders.

  5. Cló Mhuire

    There is this press release too which you didn’t post that I sent to you on twitter? …. Like any story – and there are several making headlines these daysas you know …we like to wait, pray and listen before we have comments from all sides….

  6. Éamonn

    Re: Jennifer Kehoe’s suggestion that they do “an apostolic visitation to the Irish College on Rome too”, they have! And one to St Joseph’s Seminary in Belfast as well. Having taught in Maynooth, I certainly think it needs root and branch reform; Belfast is basically sound but only covers the two years of philosophy rather than the full course. Anyway, please God the whole exercise will bear good fruit.

  7. Patrick Madrid

    In the interest of providing maximum clarity and pertinent information on this story, I post here a letter I recently received from the president of Maynooth College, who rebuts the claims made in the article I posted to above:

    ——– Original Message ——–
    Subject: Maynooth Seminary
    Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2011 08:53:41 +0100
    From: Hugh Connolly
    To: info at patrickmadrid dot com

    Dear Editor,

    We refer to your report on a speculative piece in last week’s edition of _The Irish Catholic_ regarding the future of seminary education in Ireland. The article suggested that an outcome of the current Visitation Process could be a recommendation that Irish seminary formation in the future be amalgamated and located in the Irish College Rome. Our College
    immediately issued a statement to say that the article in question was entirely without foundation. I am happy to say that Apostolic Visitor while entirely respecting the integrity of the process has issued a brief statement to dissociate himself entirely from the speculative piece in question.

    Maynooth has a very proud Seminary tradition stretching over more than two centuries and we are very confident that it will continue to have an equally strong and vibrant role in the future.

    President’s Office
    St Patrick’s College

    Further information if required can be had from the Catholic Media
    Agency Below.

    Irish Bishops’ Conference, Media Office St. Patrick’s College,
    Maynooth, Co Kildare

    Tel: (01) 505 3000 Fax: (01) 601 6413 Website:


    The Apostolic Visitator for the Irish seminaries, Archbishop Timothy M
    Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has sent his regards to the seminary
    community in Ireland, along with the following brief statement.

    “After hearing of the recent report by the _Irish Catholic_ about our
    “recommendation” to Rome, I can easily conclude that unsubstantiated
    and inaccurate reporting by the press is hardly a monopoly of the American
    media. Had anyone from this paper asked, I would have pointed out
    that our report to the Holy See is still not even complete. The sole
    mandate of the Apostolic Visitation is to review the seminaries to
    ensure they are responding properly to the present-day needs of the



    Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172
    7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444

    Links: [1]

  8. Greg -

    It is better to solve the problem instead of aviod one right? Closing the college will not help anyone. What have we the use of an empty building? Send someone to reform the system with a threat to closed it, then revolutionize the college for the better. That is solution.

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