New degree in theology at Mater Dei
Unique all-island, cross-religions degree in theology at Mater Dei
As an expression of cross-border and cross community collaboration in the light of the Good Friday Agreement, Mater Dei and Edgehill Theological College, Belfast introduced a unique all-island, cross-denominational degree in theology (which will be awarded by Queens University Belfast). On 21 January 2002, An Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern td launched the new video conferencing facilities that will be used to link students in Dublin and Belfast. He also took part in a video conference with Dr Dermot Lane, President, Mater Dei; Dr Dennis Cooke, Principal of Edgehill; Professor Ferdinand von Prondzyski, President, DCU and Professor Sir George Bain, Vice-Chancellor, Queen's University Belfast.
Speaking via video-conference link, Dr. Dennis Cooke, Principal Edgehill Theological College, Belfast said, "this is the first time that an undergraduate course in theology, that is, the QUB Bachelor of Theology, is being taught by Protestant and Catholic lecturers in a shared arrangement. I have heard people say: `This is how theology should be taught'. I hope the day will soon come when students for the ordained ministry in every Christian communion in Ireland will be taught in this way. The staff of Mater Dei Institute have reached out in friendship to us. This is a good expression of friendship between people on this island."
According to Dr Lane, the voices of the Christian churches and the major Religions are important contributions in the critical dialogue between information and wisdom, technology and the humanities. "Sometimes they will be prophetic in the search for social justice and at other times they will seek to communicate an alternative form of wisdom whose goal is to enhance the dignity and freedom of every individual", he said.
Mater Dei is linked to Dublin City University and Prof Ferdinand von Prondzynski, President of DCU told the video conference that the education sector has been quick to embrace the benefits of cross-border co-operation. "This joint initiative between Mater Dei and Edgehill is an expression of the parallel links between DCU and Queen's University Belfast. Both Mater Dei and DCU are committed to using e-learning to bring the people, cultures and traditions on this island closer to each other."