William Rooney - “A heart full of gratitude”


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.

In fact, the more I reflect on this year and how it came to be, the more clearly and beautifully I see the workings of Divine Providence. Heading into the fall of 2015, my senior year of college at Duke, I realized that I wanted to study for a Master’s in either philosophy or theology to ground myself intellectually and spiritually before moving onto other endeavors, perhaps law school, the private sector, or the world of academia.

Yet, at the same time, I began to sense in the silence of prayer the stirrings of an invitation to the priesthood and religious life - stirrings to which I was at the time not at all interested in paying attention! But, as it “just so happened,” I ended up being awarded the Mitchell Scholarship (which, at least in my case, involved plenty of good fortune) to study in Ireland for a one-year M.A. in philosophy of religion at the one university that “just so happened” to be across the street from Ireland’s national seminary - a detail I did not consider when I first applied to the Scholarship.

Within a few days of arriving in Maynooth, I had a meeting with my thesis advisor (in the philosophy department, which is separate from the seminary) that ran late, and it “just so happened” that a seminarian was scheduled to meet with her next. She warmly introduced us, and he ended up becoming a best friend.

In short order, and at my newfound friend’s invitation, I was heading over to the seminary in the mornings and evenings for the Liturgy of the Hours, Mass, and the common rosary, as I mentioned in my first blog back in November. All the while, those stirrings felt back in the fall of 2015 developed significantly, and my love for my studies, my love for the fraternal life of the seminary, and my love for the Mass and common prayer began to coalesce into a deep desire for the religious life - and especially that of the Dominican Order (the Order of Preachers), whose charism is precisely those three things: common prayer and reverent liturgy, study, and Christian fraternity, all of which conduce to rich apostolic preaching.

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