Church of Ireland Theological Institute celebrates 50 years at Braemor Park, Dublin
The Church of Ireland Theological Institute (CITI) recently marked 50 years at Braemor Park in Churchtown, Dublin.
The Divinity Hostel – later known as the Church of Ireland Theological College – was officially opened on 17th February 1964, having moved from its previous home at 25 Mountjoy Square in the centre of Dublin to what was considered to be luxurious new surroundings in south Dublin.
The 50th anniversary celebrations started with a service in the Institute’s Chapel attended by the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Richard Clarke, and the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Michael Jackson.
HOSTEL – COLLEGE – INSTITUTE
There can be no doubt that the Representative Church Body’s purchase in 1961 of the former Fetherstonhaugh House nursing home, at Dublin’s Braemor Park, as a new Divinity Hostel was both timely and forward looking. The resulting move in 1964 – 50 years ago this year (report, page 1; photographs, page 6) – from Mountjoy Square to what is today the premises of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute marked the beginning of a new era for the training of clergy.
The Gazette editorial in our issue of 21st February 1964 described the new Hostel as “an earnest of the recognition by the Church of Ireland of the priority that deserves to be given to the training for the Ministry in the scheme of things”.
Thus, the Church had responded with not a little brilliance to the need of the Church. The internal adaptation of the house and the addition of the accommodation wing resulted in a place that was admirably suited to its purpose, even if the accommodation wing was in a very different architectural style from the main house.
Over the 50 years since it opened under the wardenship of the late and quite legendary Canon John Brown, the Divinity Hostel became the Theological College and, since 2008, the Theological Institute, with much internal refurbishment throughout. Under the present Director, Dr Maurice Elliott, arrangements for training in ministry today – and not only ordained ministry – are much more varied than they were half a century ago, and that is another sign of the Church’s awareness of the priority of a truly up-to-date approach to ministerial training.
As we reported in 1964, the Archbishop of Armagh, Dr McCann, on the occasion of the official opening of the new premises, was requested by the secretary of the management committee, G.C. Duggan, “to open this Hostel now duly furnished, as a house of prayer and study”. Today, with the RCB Library happily having moved in 1970 from St Stephen’s Green to its purpose-built accommodation in the Hostel’s grounds, the Institute emphasises its aim of blending “worship, community, study and the connections between all of these and both personal and ministerial practice”.
There is both continuity and development here. Those who teach and study at the Institute today can know that they stand in a long line of many who, over the years, have served the Church well in both scholarship and ministry.
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