||Eddie Cotter, co-founder and executive director of the Dead Theologians Society (DTS), talks with Michelle Barrett, left, and Teresa Meehan, leaders of the first DTS chapter in Ireland. The young women visited the Madison area recently for training. (Catholic Herald photo/Pam Payne)
MADISON -- The Dead Theologians Society (DTS) now has an Irish connection. Leaders of the first DTS chapter in Ireland recently visited the Madison area for training in this Catholic apostolate for high school teens and college-aged young adults.
Michelle Barrett, 20, and Teresa Meehan, 19, spent several weeks in the Madison area, working with Eddie Cotter, co-founder and executive director of DTS, who lives in Black Earth. The young women also spent time with a local DTS chapter.
The mission of DTS explained on the apostolate’s Web site (www.deadtheologianssociety.com) is: “Through the saints of yesterday, the Dead Theologians Society inspires the youth of today to become the saints of tomorrow.”
Establishing DTS in Ireland
Cotter said Cardinal Raymond Burke encouraged him to establish DTS in Ireland. “He felt it would go over well there,” said Cotter.
Cotter visited Ireland in 2011 and received assistance from the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal there to establish the first DTS chapter. “I was inspired by the receptivity of the young people in Ireland to the traditions of the Catholic faith,” he said.
“We were encouraged by older people and young ones. We plan to keep going back and help sponsor DTS chapter leaders to come here and get training.”
Cotter said DTS plans to have a booth at the International Eucharistic Congress being held in Dublin in June.
Cotter, who is half Irish himself, has established a DTS office in Knock, the place where Our Lady appeared to the Irish people in 1879. “We asked Our Lady to bless our mission,” he said.
Focus on lives of the saints
Meehan heard Cotter speak about DTS and was impressed by his enthusiasm for it. She feels DTS appeals to youth at any stage of their faith and it’s easy to understand what DTS teaches about the lives of the saints.
“There’s a lot we can learn from the saints,” said Meehan. “They weren’t all perfect like us, but if they could transform their lives, then we can, too.”
Barrett said young people today are fixated on celebrities. “But I prefer looking up to the saints. They’re better role models,” she said.
Speaking in their lilting Irish accents, Barrett and Meehan expressed excitement about being leaders in the Dead Theologians Society. They are part of a small group of seven young adults who will now be leaders with secondary (high school) youth.
Spreading throughout the world
Although this is the first DTS chapter in Ireland, DTS is already active in other foreign counties, including Canada, Ghana, the Philippines, and Germany.
In the 14 years since it was started, DTS has grown to over 10,000 members. In the United States, over 400 parishes have a DTS chapter in 44 states, said Cotter. “We start a new chapter about every two weeks.”
In the Diocese of Madison, there are currently nine parishes with active DTS chapters.
The Irish leaders were impressed with the young people at the DTS chapter at St. Mary Parish in Pine Bluff. “The kids are absolutely amazing,” said Meehan. Barrett added, “They are very mature.”
Barrett led one of the DTS sessions at St. Mary Parish.
Enjoyed visit to Wisconsin
While they were in Wisconsin, the Irish women visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse and the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Champion.
They enjoyed their time in Wisconsin, noting that they got to do some firsts: milking a cow, eating cheese curds, and seeing a snake.
“I love it here,” said Meehan. “Everyone has been so welcoming.”
They stayed with Cotter and enjoyed being part of the “Cotter clan,” participating in a darts tournament and an Irish party.
“It’s been a great time,” said Cotter. “We’ve had hours of faith discussions and sharing stories. The future of DTS in Ireland looks bright because of the faith of people like these two.”