Irish Bishops: Dr Nicola Brady has been appointed as chair of the Synodal Steering Committee and the vice-chairs appointed are Mr Andrew O’Callaghan and Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick

Bishops express thanks for over 550 submissions received for Synodal Pathway

During their 2020 Winter General Meeting, bishops decided to proceed along a Synodal Pathway and, since then, have been assisted and greatly encouraged by Cardinal Mario Grech and Sr Natalie Becquart, of the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops in Rome, who addressed the Irish bishops on the theme of synodality on 3 February.  Following the Spring 2021 General Meeting, bishops announced that a new Synodal Pathway for the Catholic Church in Ireland is to take place which will lead to the holding of a national synodal assembly, or assemblies, within the next five years.  At their meeting this week, bishops expressed their thanks for the over 550 submissions received from the public as part of the initial phase of the Synodal Pathway.

By a happy coincidence, these first two years of our Synodal Pathway in Ireland will complement the Catholic Church’s worldwide journey towards the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops in Rome entitled, For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.  This 9 and 10 October Pope Francis will officially launch the Universal Synod and has asked that the whole Church prepare for this Synod which is scheduled to take place in Rome in October 2023.

Bishops decided to establish a Synodal Steering Committee and a Synodal Task Group to help move forward the Synodal Pathway process for Ireland.  Bishops announced that Dr Nicola Brady has been appointed as chair of the Synodal Steering Committee and the vice-chairs appointed are Mr Andrew O’Callaghan and Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick (see biographies below).  The full membership of the Steering Committee and of the Synodal Task Group will be published as part of the official launch of the Synodal Pathway in the coming months.

Following her appointment Dr Brady said, “The Synodal Pathway is an important and hope-filled development in the life of the Catholic Church in Ireland and I am grateful for the opportunity to help guide and shape this work.”

  • Biographies of Nicola Brady and Andrew O’Callaghan

Dr Nicola Brady is the General Secretary of the Irish Council of Churches and Joint Secretary of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting where she facilitates relationship-building between Christian Churches on the island of Ireland and collaborative action on issues of shared concern to member Churches.  Nicola holds a BA in European Studies from Trinity College Dublin. Her PhD, also from Trinity, examined the response of the Catholic hierarchy to political violence in Northern Ireland (1921-1973) and to the Basque Country (1936-1975).  Nicola has particular expertise in the area of faith-based peace-building on the island of Ireland and internationally, including human rights advocacy, support to victims/survivors, facilitation of civic dialogue, community engagement with policing, and research across a broad range of issues relevant to reconciliation.  Nicola is a Director of Christian Aid Ireland and the Maximilian Kolbe Foundation, which works to extend the lessons of German-Polish reconciliation post-World War II to other conflict areas.  In 2017 Nicola took part in an international workshop organised by the Catholic Bishops of Germany and Colombia to support the peace process in Colombia, engaging with victims and survivors, armed actors, NGOs and faith communities.  In 2019 Nicola became an Eisenhower Fellow and undertook a professional development programme in the US with a focus on developing the capacity of the faith sector to promote social cohesion in communities divided by race, violence, political polarisation and socio-economic inequality.  Recent publications include The Churches, Reconciliation and Addressing the Legacy of Intercommunal Violence in Northern IrelandGlencree Journal (2021), 92-102 — co-authored with Dr Gladys Ganiel, Queen’s University Belfast; and Pulling Together or Pulling Apart: Perspectives on Nationhood, Identity and Belonging in Europe (Peter Lang, 2019) — co-edited with Dr Susana Bayó Belenguer, Trinity College Dublin.

Andrew O’Callaghan was born in Dublin and is married to Helena Smith, they have four children.  Andrew was educated at Moyle Park College, Dublin, and studied as an undergraduate in University College Dublin, receiving an honours Bachelor of Commerce degree.  Andrew is a member of the Chartered Accountants of Ireland and the Institute of Chartered Accountants, England & Wales.

Since 2001, Andrew has worked as a partner in PwC, the professional services firm providing services across audit, tax and advisory, and is its Global Advisory Leader (Asset Management).  Andrew has held various leadership roles and responsibilities over his professional career of over 28 years – working in the UK, the United States and in Ireland.  Andrew’s voluntary interests include as current chair of the Monkstown Parish Pastoral Council, Dublin and as co-founder of ‘2nd Chance Saturday’ – an initiative to encourage Catholics who may not currently practice to return and attend Mass – in Saint Andrew’s Parish, Westland Row, Dublin.  Andrew has also served as chair of Saint Patrick’s Athletic Football Club, Dublin; as a board member of Saint Andrew’s Community Resource Centre, Dublin; and is secretary, Juvenile Section of Cuala GAA Club, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin                          

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