A slightly scaled-down version of the planned campus labyrinth will be installed by March or April of 2014, according to Head of the InterFaith Centre, Fr Joe Jones, who is leading the project.
Over €33,000 has been raised to date, which will cover the cost of constructing the labyrinth itself. Fr Jones is also keen to have an attractive surround, however including this in the work early next year would bring the total cost to about €50,000.
The labyrinth will be a large granite stone structure on the third garden approaching the library. The design consists of spiralling paths with a single path as entrance and exit and will help the campus appear more inviting. A builder specialising in horticultural architecture has already been assigned the project, which is expected to take just six weeks to complete.
Harvard research has found walking meditations can reduce levels of anxiety, insomnia and blood pressure. The walk brings a person “into a space of quiet, relaxation and calm”, Fr Jones explained. “People walk the path and they realise something quite profound happens to us in the process.”
Fr Jones is also passionate about the labyrinth’s potential to help people at a time of mental ill health. “As far as I’m concerned even if it only works for a handful of students and it brings them into a space that enables them to find quiet, contentment and calm, then it’s worth every penny.”
He is still saddened that the Students’ Union rowed back upon an agreed €10,000 contribution following a DCU Sinn Féin-instigated referendum in 2012.
The chaplain feels that people who voted against the contribution may have been voting against the Catholic Church and thinks it unfortunate that he is a Catholic priest leading this project. “The labyrinth does not belong to any one tradition and it’s used by all traditions.”
While he recognises there is a substantial price-tag associated with this project, he would urge students to experience a labyrinth walk before rushing to criticise plans.
“I’m prepared to have that conversation with people when they know what it’s about”, he explained. “Then they can tell me if it’s a load of crap, if we’re wasting money.”
All students are invited to walk a mobile labyrinth which is placed in the InterFaith Centre every Tuesday afternoon.
Image Credit: Annemarie Kelly