ACE creates Pastoral Initiative in Ireland

by Dennis Brown

The University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program has created a new Pastoral Initiative in Ireland to be funded by an anonymous donor in honor of Donald R. Keough, chair emeritus of the University’s Board of Trustees.p. In summer 2001, Cardinal Desmond Connell, Archbishop of Dublin, Ireland, invited Notre Dame to expand its presence in Ireland to provide opportunities for Notre Dame students and graduates to study and work in Ireland. Partly in response to this invitation, ACE has devised a two-pronged approach for serving the people and Church of Ireland through education while providing its graduates with the chance to teach in Ireland and to strengthen ACE’s own ranks with Irish-born teachers.p. In August, four graduates of the ACE program will begin work in Dublin, where they will live together in community and serve as educators for at-risk children in four Catholic schools in Tallaght, an area characterized by high unemployment and drug abuse rates. They also will study and serve as instructors at St. Patrick’s College, where they will learn how to better serve their students in the College’s M.Ed. seminar in Educational Disadvantage while teaching undergraduate teachers-in-training in the College’s religious education program. As teachers committed to the three pillars of the ACE program ? teaching, community, and spirituality ? they will serve as models of faith in action for their students in Tallaght and the future teachers of Ireland at St. Patrick’s, while continuing to grow in their own faith lives.p. The second phase of ACE’s program in Ireland will be to recruit several Irish college graduates to participate in the ACE program in the United States beginning in 2003. These teachers will contribute enormously to ACE’s efforts through their service to American Catholic schools while earning tuition-free master of education degrees from Notre Dame. ACE hopes that immersing these young Irish-born leaders into the ministry of service through teaching with their American peers will direct them to lives of service and leadership in the Church and in schools back home in Ireland upon their return.p. Through the teaching and example of ACE graduates serving in Dublin and the formation of young Irish leaders in Catholic schools across the United States, ACE hopes to contribute in a small way to Cardinal Connell’s efforts to evangelize the youth of Ireland through its teachers and schools.p. Founded in 1994 by Rev. Timothy R. Scully, C.S.C., executive vice president at Notre Dame, and Rev. Sean McGraw, C.S.C., ACE is a service through teaching program that gives college graduates the opportunity to earn master of education degrees while serving as full-time teachers in under-resourced Catholic schools nationwide. In exchange for a modest stipend and a tuition-free graduate program, ACE participants make a two-year commitment to teach in these schools.p. More than 80 recent college graduates enter ACE each year. Coming from a wide variety of educational disciplines, the students take courses and engage in teacher-training projects at Notre Dame during their two summers in the program, then are assigned to full-time teaching positions at schools in some 30 cities in 14 states during the school year. Within each city, the ACE students also live in community, sharing the rewards and challenges of teaching.p. After two years, the students graduate with a master of education degree, and, although not obligated to remain in education, 75 percent stay in the profession in both public and private elementary and secondary schools through the country.

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