William Rooney - “A heart full of gratitude”

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William Rooney

Wills Rooney studied for an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion at Maynooth University during the 2016-2017 academic year through the George J. Mitchell Scholarship. Prior to this, he graduated from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where he ran cross-country and track & field and wrote regular columns for the student newspaper. In July 2017, he will enter the novitiate for the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (the Eastern Province of the United States) and begin formation toward becoming a Dominican bother and a Catholic priest.

“The days are long, but the years are short,” goes the saying—referring to the paradoxical way in which individual days can seem slow and busy while months and years seem to whizz by. And, indeed, it rings all too true as I approach the end of my Mitchell year and begin to reflect on these rather extraordinary nine months in Ireland and this marvelous privilege to study for an M.A. in Philosophy on the George J. Mitchell Scholarship.

I cannot help but be overwhelmed with gratitude to the U.S.-Ireland Alliance, Maynooth University, the advisors I had at Duke, and many others for their efforts to make possible my time in Ireland. I also cannot help but be moved by how much has happened this past academic year - how much I saw and experienced, how much I grew, and how much I learned about myself, this great country, and my studies. To be sure, there were many long days (and several surely remain as I work to complete my dissertation), but they have all borne much fruit.

I came to Ireland in September eager to live in a new country and immerse myself in its culture and history; to dive more deeply into areas in philosophy that I had not previously studied; to meet new people and make new friends; and to emerge with clarity about what I wanted to do in the future. This was the first occasion in which I had ever really “started from scratch,” embarking on a new stage of life in an entirely new place, and that required trust - trust in the Mitchell Scholarship, trust in my program and professors at Maynooth, trust in myself, and, above all, trust in God, that amidst the variety of challenges and hiccups that one invariably encounters in life (and thankfully, those challenges have been, for the most part, small), I would be sustained by grace and ever-presented with opportunities for growth in virtue and the spiritual life.

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