William Rooney - “Seeking integration toward the truth”


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.

On weekends, I have been able to explore other parts of the Emerald Isle. Trips to Dublin—just a stone’s throw away by train or bus (30-40 minutes)—are frequent, whether to visit my fellow Mitchell Scholars (where 8 are studying) or to join in the camaraderie and fraternity of the student brothers at St. Saviour’s priory, the Dominican House of Studies in Ireland. One weekend highlight thus far was a trip with a large group of international students at Maynooth to Limerick to play in a Gaelic football tournament and visit the historic city in the west of Ireland. Gaelic football, sort of a combination of soccer, basketball, football, and rugby, is “good craic,” as they say here (meaning “good fun”). The whole excursion was a blast and a nice way to learn about Irish sport and culture with others who are similarly adjusting to life here. Another highlight was a pilgrimage with the Irish Dominicans to Knock, a boggy village in northwestern Ireland where Mary, Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, and the Eucharistic Lamb of God appeared silently on the gable wall of the town’s parish church to 15 people for about 2 hours on a rainy evening in 1879. It is one of the most famous Marian shrines in the world and a peaceful site of prayer and healing.

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One of the Mitchell Scholarship’s fundamental purposes—and thus one of my fundamental purposes for being in Ireland — is to cultivate and establish enduring relationships between Americans and the island of Ireland. As I continue to build, with the help of God, an integrated life here, I find myself more deeply immersed in and connected to the ways of the Irish — between living in a new place, learning its history, settling into the Church, developing deep friendships, and engaging the culture.

Each of those has presented its fair share of unique challenges, though always accompanied by an opportunity for growth. With two joyful months down, I am thoroughly excited for what lies ahead. Sláinte!


This article was initially published on the Us-Ireland Alliance website.