Saturday, 25 June 2011

Cambridge Summer School programme details finalised

Sidney Sussex College in the mid-summer sunshine in Cambridge this week … the venue for the IOCS summer school from 24 to 29 July (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Patrick Comerford

The final programme for the 12th annual summer school of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies has been announced in Cambridge. Once again, this year’s summer school takes place in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, with daily services in the Chapel of Sidney Sussex College, lectures and seminars in in the William Mong Hall, and meals in the Dining Hall.

“We are all looking forward to what seems to be one of the most exciting line-ups of speakers and topics yet,” Razvan Porumb, Development Officer of the Institute, told me in Cambridge this week.

The theme of this year’s summer school is ‘The Challenge of a Secular Age,’ and the programme includes a day-long retreat in the Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of of Saint John in Essex.

Participants in the IOCS Summer School last year in the grounds of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge

The summer school opens on Sunday 24 July with registration from 4 p.m. and Vespers in Sidney Sussex Chapel at 7.30, followed by a reception outside the IOCS offices in the gardens of Wesley House.

On Monday 25 July, the Divine Liturgy marking the Dormition of the Righteous Anna, Mother of the Most Holy Theotokos will be served at 7 a.m. After breakfast, the conference will be introduced at 9.15 by Professor David Frost and Dr Christoph Schneider.

Monday morning’s lectures are by Dr Andreas Andreopoulos (University of Winchester), “Art: from Ritual to Voyeurism,” and Dr Mihail Neamţu (The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and for the Memory of the Romanian Exile), “Communism: a Secularized Eschatology?”

On Monday afternoon, Dr Jonathan Chaplin (The Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics) speaks on “Between Theocracy and Secularism: Religion and the State in Britain Today.”

On Tuesday morning [26 July], Revd Dr John Hughes (Jesus College, Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge), speaks on: “Beyond the Secular Market: Christian Social Teaching and the Economic Crisis.” He is followed by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia: “Our Orthodox Answer to Secularism I: The Transfiguration of Christ.” Metropolitan Kallistos continues this theme later in the evening after Vespers with a second lecture: “Our Orthodox Answer to Secularism II: ‘Pray without Ceasing’.”

On Wednesday [27 July], the day begins with a lecture by Alexander Ogorodnikov, (Moscow): “The Russian Orthodox Church in the face of the modern secular challenge.” Later in the morning, Irina Kirillova (Newnham College, Cambridge) speaks on: “‘If there is no God, then all is permitted!’ (F.M. Dostoevsky).”

After lunch, Dragos Herescu (University of Durham and IOCS) addresses “Secularisation and the Curious Case of the Orthodox Church.”

On Thursday morning [28 July], we have an early start at 6 a.m. to visit the Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of Saint John the Baptist at Tolleshunt Knights near Chelmsford in Essex, for the Divine Liturgy at 8 a.m., followed by breakfast, a tour, and a talk on the Summer School theme. The organisers point out that the monastery trip is taking place on the Thursday and not on the Wednesday as in previous years. Later in the evening, there is a special Summer School dinner in the Old Library of Sidney Sussex College.

On the closing morning of the summer school [Friday 29 July], there are two final lectures – Dr Brandon Gallaher (University of Oxford), “An Alternate Modernity? Orthodox and Roman Catholic Engagements with Secularism and (Post-)Modernity, and the Nature of Episcopal Authority,” and Professor Nicholas Loudovikos (Superior Ecclesiastical Academy of Thessaloniki): “An Orthodox Perspective on Psychology and Secularism.”

Speakers and Lecturers

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, one of this year’s lecturers, with Patrick Comerford at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, last year

Dr Andreas Andreopoulos is Senior Lecturer in Orthodox Christianity and programme leader of the MTh in Orthodox Studies at the University of Winchester. He has published widely on Sacred Art, Ecclesiology, Christian Semiotics and Liturgy. He is the author of This is my Beloved Son: the Transfiguration of Christ (Orleans, MA: Paraclete Press, 2010); The Sign of the Cross: the Gesture, the Mystery, the History (Orleans, MA: Paraclete Press, 2006); Art as Theology: from the Postmodern to the Medieval (London: Equinox Publishing, 2006); and Metamorphosis: The Transfiguration in Byzantine Theology and Iconography (Crestwood, NY: Saint Vladimir Seminary Press, 2005).

Dr Jonathan Chaplin is the first Director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, a position he has held since 2006. He is member of the Divinity Faculty of Cambridge University, a visiting lecturer at the VU University, Amsterdam, and an Adjunct Faculty member of the Institute for Christian Studies (ICS), Toronto. He is a specialist in Christian political thought, and has authored or edited seven books and many articles in this field. His latest publications are God and Government (London: SPCK 2009), co-edited with Nick Spencer; God and Global Order: The Power of Religion in American Foreign Policy, coedited with Robert Joustra (Baylor University Press, 2010) and Herman Dooyeweerd – Christian Philosopher of State and Civil Society (University of Notre Dame Press, 2011).

Dr Brandon Gallaher is the Stipendiary Lecturer in Theology at Keble College, University of Oxford. In September, he begins a three-year British Academy post-doctoral fellowship at Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford, with a project on secularism and religious authority in modern Orthodox and Roman Catholic theologies. He holds a BA in English and Philosophy (University of British Columbia), an MA in Religious Studies (McGill University), an MDiv (Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary), and an MSt and DPhil in systematic theology (Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford). His doctoral work, under Professor Paul Fiddes, was on the role of freedom and necessity in the Trinitarian theologies of Sergii Bulgakov, Karl Barth and Hans Urs von Balthasar. He has published on modern Russian theology (Bulgakov, Georges Florovsky and Vladimir Solov’ev). He is currently co-editing, with Paul Ladouceur a Florovsky Reader for Continuum/T&T Clark (Forthcoming 2013), with a foreword by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware.

Dragos Herescu holds an MA in Pastoral Theology with the IOCS and an MPhil in Theology from the Divinity Faculty, University of Cambridge. He is working on a PhD with Durham University, researching secularisation in both Eastern Orthodox and Pentecostal Christianity. Dragos is a tutor on the IOCS distance learning programme and he conducts the institute’s Byzantine chant choir. Before coming to Cambridge, he worked for the Metropolitanate of Moldova and Bucovina (Iasi, Romania) as administrator and as project officer responsible for accessing funds from the European Union for social assistance and cultural projects.

The Revd Dr John Hughes is the chaplain and acting Dean of Jesus College, Cambridge. He studied theology in Cambridge under Janet Soskice and in Oxford under Oliver O’Donovan, before completing a PhD on Theologies of Work with Catherine Pickstock and Jeremy Morris. This has been published as The End of Work (Blackwell: 2007). Before returning to Cambridge, he was a curate in Exeter. He teaches philosophy and ethics, with a particular interest in aesthetics and political thought. His published articles include one on Bulgakov in Sobornost, and a chapter in a forthcoming volume on the Crisis of Global Capitalism. He is working on a project on the role of divine ideas in the doctrine of creation.

Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) is Metropolitan Bishop of Diokleia (Assistant Bishop in the Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, Ecumenical Patriarchate). From 1966 to 2001, he was Spalding Lecturer in Eastern Orthodox Studies at the University of Oxford.

Irina Kirillova, MBE, is a retired University Lecturer in Russian Studies and a Fellow Emerita of Newnham College, Cambridge. Her publications include The Image of Christ in Dostoevsky’s writing (Moscow, 2010), which was published in Russian.

Professor Nicholas Loudovikos is Professor of Dogmatics and Philosophy at the Superior Ecclesiastical Academy of Thessaloniki, Greece, and an honorary research fellow at the University of Winchester. He is one of the most recognisable scholars of his generation in Greece. His most recent publications include The strive for participation: Thomas Aquinas and Gregory Palamas (Athens: Armos, forthcoming); A eucharistic ontology: Maximus The Confessor’s eschatological ontology of being as dialogical reciprocity (Athens: Domos, 1992; Boston: Holy Cross Press, 2010); The terrors of the person and the ordeals of love: critical thoughts for a postmodern theological ontology (Athens: Armos, 2009); Theopoiia: postmodern theological aporia (Athens: Armos, 2006).

Dr Mihail Neamțu is a Romanian historian of ideas, with a degree in Continental philosophy and a PhD in theology and religious studies from King’s College, University of London. He held post-doctoral fellowships at New Europe College (2005-2007) and at Woodrow Wilson Center (2009). He is the author of several books on the religious, political, and cultural encounter between Christianity and modernity. In addition to other scholarly studies in patristics, he has written a number of essays on the experience of Communism in Eastern Europe. He is scientific director of the Institute for the Investigation of the Communist Past and a member of the Christian Democratic Foundation in Bucharest.

Alexander Ogorodnikov is the former chair of the Russian Orthodox Argentov Seminar, survivor of the Gulag prisons, peace activist, and founder of several Russian humanitarian organisations. He was jailed during an aggressive Soviet suppression of religious activity. His grandmother secretly arranged his baptism as a child. He was singled out because his religious convictions defied Soviet “science” on the eradication of religious belief. He was the subject of an international campaign for his release in the 1980s.

One-day conference in Westminster

Patrick Comerford

The ‘Church of Ireland Notes’ on page 2 in The Irish Times today [Saturday, 25 June 2011] concludes with the following two paragraphs:

In St Matthew’s church, Westminster, on Thursday, Canon Patrick Comerford, from the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, will be one of the speakers at a conference, Thy Kingdom Come. Prayer and Mission in the Building of the Kingdom, which has been organized by Affirming Catholicism. Canon Comerford will speak on the work of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.

Sean Comerford: a gentle soul leaves his favourite church

With my cousins May Kealy and Rita Duggan at Sean Comerford’s funeral in University Church, Dublin, this week

Patrick Comerford

I was at the funeral yesterday [Friday] of my third cousin, Sean Comerford, who was the long-serving Sacristan of the Catholic University Church in Saint Stephen’s Green. Sean died last Tuesday [21 June 2011] in Saint Francis Hospice, Raheny, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery after his Funeral Mass in Newman’s University Church.

John Oliver (‘Sean’) Comerford was born in 1938 in the South Circular Road area of Dublin. He was the only child of my father’s second cousin, Robert (Bob or Bobby) Comerford (1893-1958), and Kathleen (nee Flanagan) Comerford.

His father, Bob Comerford, was the son of my grandfather’s (much older) first cousin, James Comerford (1839-1903) of 62 Lower Clanbrassil Street and 50 Upper Clabrassil Street. The family had moved to Dublin from Netownbarry (Bunclody), Co Wexford, and for this branch of the family, the family home was at 50 Upper Clanbrassil Street. The house is mentioned in Molly Bloom’s soliloquy in Ulysses, when she recalls being at a party in Christmas 1893 – “[the year] the canal was frozen” – in Comerford’s in Clanrassil Street – two doors from the house where James Joyce says Leopold Bloom was born.

No 50 Upper Clanbrassil Street ... the Comerford family lived here, and Molly Bloom in her soliloquy speaks of a party at the Comerfords in the year Sean Comerford’s father was born (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

If there ever was a party in Comerford’s that year, then it must have been to celebrate the birth of Sean’s father, Bob Comerford. Like many generations of his family, Bob was a stucco plasterer and a member of the union committee throughout the 1930s and 1940s, and was one of the organisers of the union in Belfast. He had a strong disagreement within the union with his brother Larry, and stood against him when Larry was elected union president in 1937. In an interesting twist to the family tale, Larry was married in the University Church many years before Sean went to work there.

Sean’s mother, Kathleen O’Flanagan, was from a well-known Republican family in the north inner city. Her sister, Sarah O’Flanagan, married my grandfather’s first cousin, James Comerford. Kathleen and Sean later moved to Drimnagh and then to Fairview.

He was baptised in Saint Kevin’s – and was named John because he was born close to the Feastday of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, which we celebrated on the day of Sean’s funeral. He was brought up in Dublin’s “Little Jerusalem,” and went to school at CBS Synge Street. After his Leaving Certificate, he entered the Capuchin novitiate in Cork, and it remained a lifelong disappointment for him that he had never been ordained to the priesthood.

After his parents died in 1958 and 1960, Sean went to live with a maternal aunt in Marino, and lived there for the rest of his life.

The entrance porch of University Church, Saint Stephen’s Green, Dublin ... Sean Comerford’s funeral took place here this week (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

For over half a century, Sean worked as the sacristan in Newman’s University Church in Saint Stephen’s Green, Dublin. His work there was recognised when he was decorated with the papal medal Benemerenti, conferred on those who have exhibited long and exceptional service to the Roman Catholic Church.

It was in that same church that Sean’s funeral mass was celebrated yesterday by the Administrator of the Church, the Very Revd Dr Ciaran O’Carroll.

Father Ciaran O’Carroll holds a doctorate in ecclesiastical history from the Gregorian University Rome, and has taught Church History at Saint Patrick's College, Maynooth, and at Holy Cross College, Clonliffe. He has contributed to a variety of works on the Catholic Church in Ireland in the 19th century, and his recent publications include Paul Cardinal Cullen: Profile of a Practical Nationalist, and a history of Universty Church. He was named the Vicar for Evangelisation in the Archdiocese of Dublin in 2010, and led the programme for the Year of Evangelisation.

Sean would have been delighted to see so many priests who have been associated with the University Church taking part in his funeral Mass, and that there were two bishops on the altar too – the Most Revd Jim Moriarty, former Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin and a former Auxiliary Bishop in the Dublin archdiocese; and the Most Revd Dr Fiachra O Ceallaigh, former Auxiliary Bishop in Dublin and Titular Bishop of Tre Taverne, Bishop Fiachra was the first friar to serve as a bishop in Ireland for over 170 years, and was once my Irish teacher at Gormanston College.

I also met some mutual cousins at Sean’s funeral: Mary Kealy, who lived at the Comerford home at 50 Upper Clanbrassil Street until the early 1970s, is Sean’s first cousin and my third cousin, and a daughter of Larry Comerford. She now lives in Sandyford. Rita Duggan, who was brought up in 50 Upper Clanbrassil Street, is also Sean’s first cousin and my third cousin.

Many years ago, Sean, May and Rita were was an immense and inspiring help to me in tracing and clarifying these branches of the Comerford family. Sean was a gentle soul, and his passing was marked appropriately and properly.

Last night, as I sat to dinner in Little Jerusalem in Rathmines and raised a glass, I toasted the memory of this son of Little Jerusalem.