Michael Paul is a native of Colooney, Co.Sligo. He received his secondary education at Clongowes Wood. His faith was first challenged and enriched in a French milieu where he spent a year on scholarship. Following his novitiate he did special studies in Renaissance literature in Oxford, with his thesis on rhetoric in the poetry of George Herbert. He prefers Herbert to the exhibitionist John Donne. “I realized that the contours of inner experience, captured so marvellously in Herbert, spoke to everyone.” Those of you familiar with the metaphysical poetry of Donne and Herbert in the back of the Prayer of the Church will see why. Donne is severe: Batter my heart three person’d God…. Herbert’s: Love bade me welcome is gentle, inviting and creative.
Michael Paul’s journey from literature to theology came with the insight that if it were going to be fruitful, we would have to speak to people imaginatively. In a life of unblocking the spiritual imagination, Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan were among his many students.
The poor have also held a place in his life and in his ministry. While living in Paraguay he realised that “Living with the poor, I saw that unbelief was more likely a product of life-style, than a set of ideas.” On his return from Paraguay he lived and ministered in Ballymun while commuting to UCD to lecture. Today he comes from the Gregoriana in Rome where he lectures in theology and in the next few months he will journey to Vietnam to lecture.