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Marion Dooley, fcJ - Studies in Dublin, Ireland

Sr. Marion.In September 2006, as part of my advance preparation for our FCJ mission to Myanmar, (Burma) I began studying in Milltown Institute, Dublin. Milltown is a Jesuit School of Theology and Philosophy.

At the beginning of the year we were 18 students in the class from Spain, India, Poland, Nigeria and Ireland.

I’m studying for an MA in Applied Christian Spirituality. This is a full-time two-year programme. Although an academic course, there is great emphasis on the applied nature of it. Everything is looked at from this perspective.

Before applying the content to the lives of others, we each need to apply it to our own lives first! This implies a lot of personal processing of the material presented. For some this is the Achilles’ heel and the greatest challenge and seems to be the reason why three of the six male students have already withdrawn. We meet regularly in triads to share and process as well as having large group integration time. Personally, I find it demanding but very worthwhile and enriching. First year modules among others include Theological Anthropology, Reflective Practices, Prayer and Worship, Bible and Spirituality, Counselling and Spiritual Direction skills and Contemporary Irish Spirituality. Recently somebody said to me, ‘Whenever you are asked about the course, I notice you answer by always talking about the group’!!  And it is true!  However, I do believe the real richness in the course is the interaction and sharing that goes on among the group members. They are a really great group with a wonderful spirit and I feel so lucky to be part of it. It seems we are a particularly lively group. We consist of two religious women, two diocesan priests, one layman and the remainder lay women. Practically all the women are mothers and grandmothers and I am so touched by their hunger for the spiritual in their lives. If these are representative of the women of Ireland, and they are, then there is enormous hope for Ireland of the future.

Sr. Marion in Indonesia.Myanmar is predominantly a Buddhist country and so for several weeks now I have been attending a Dzogchen Buddhist meditation group in Dublin’s city centre. We meet for two hours each Monday evening. The greater part of the time is spent meditating or ‘sitting’ as the Buddhist like to call it. There is also approximately 20 minutes instruction time each week and with a similar amount of time for interaction or sharing.

There are approximately twelve at each meeting. As usual, there are more women than men. Many young Irish men and women are attracted to it. I’ve noticed many of them are working in the health services and particularly in palliative care. They are attracted to the spiritual care of the dying. The Dzogchen Buddhist community in Ireland are presently building a Spiritual Care Centre in Castletownbere, Cork which will specifically care for people in the later stages of cancer. The spiritual leader of Dzogchen Buddhism throughout the world is Sogyal Rinpoche. He has written a beautiful book called The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. In it he states that we need to live fully and die fully and do both with dignity and compassion. Laurence Freeman OSB regularly works with the Buddhist community. I will be doing a week-end course he is giving in Dzogchenbere at the end of May. I’ve learnt so much these weeks through my interaction with the group. It has been wonderful.

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Nuestra pequeña Sociedad tiene como fin
     glorificar el corazón de Jesús
           por todos los medios a su alcance…     (Marie Madeleine)