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.

Then, at the start of the spring semester, it “just so happened” that a lay Dominican began a yearlong teaching post in the philosophy department at Maynooth to fill in for a professor who went on sabbatical on short notice. That Dominican tertiary taught me in a course on the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, who was a 13th-century Dominican priest and is one of greatest, if not the greatest, philosopher-theologians in the 2,000-year history of the Church.

Given my deepened enthusiasm for the Dominican life and intellectual tradition - combined with my getting to know throughout the year the Irish Dominican friars, especially at their house of studies in Dublin - I ultimately decided that it was time for me to “take the plunge” and apply to the Dominican friars of the Eastern Province of the United States. I am grateful and honored to share that I will head to Cincinnati, OH in late July to begin the novitiate year, which is the first step on the way to becoming a Dominican brother and a Priest of Jesus Christ.

As I look back on all of this, I am left in a posture of complete humility and awe. Of course, things did not “have” to work out this way, and it certainly is not as if I had no choice in these matters or as if God could not have worked through other intermediate causes to nudge me to this point of entering religious life. But the beautiful reality is that, in the circumstances that “just so happened” to present themselves, I was able to make, with the help of grace, free choices that led me, step by step, grace by grace, to arriving at a deep and abiding clarity that I should enter the religious life and that I should act on that conviction now.

Add to that the wide variety of joys that this Mitchell year has provided - from growing in friendship with and being intellectually challenged by my fellow Mitchell Scholars to connecting with the greater Maynooth community and immersing myself in Ireland’s rich cultural and historical heritage to traveling to various locations within the island and on the greater continent. Truly, it has all been one incredible experience. I will forever cherish this year, this island, the Mitchell Scholarship, and their profound collective impact on my life. Go raibh maith agat, Dia Leat! (Thank you, and God bless!)

IMG 9731-500x500


This article was initially published on this page.