TCD Theological Society – where are they now?

In an interview with auditor Mark Finn, Zahra Khan explores the history of College’s third-oldest society


“The Theo is “Trinity’s third oldest society and we primarily in recent years focus on guest speakers, for example the Mormons who came to talk last year and the Psychic Deborah.””

As the archetypal fresh-faced fresher, I joined almost every society with a stall during Freshers’ week. I signed up to Snowsports having never held a ski, and listened at great length to a rep for the rowing club, despite having capsized the one time I was in a boat. A society that didn’t have a stall, and therefore, one that I hadn’t particularly considered was the Theological Society (Theo), and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I interviewed Mark Finn, auditor of the Theo.

The Theo is “Trinity’s third oldest society,” Finn informed me, “and we primarily in recent years focus on guest speakers, for example the Mormons who came to talk last year and the Psychic Deborah.” The society aims to inform and facilitate discussions around “mainstream and niche religious groups,” and to “explore subgroups that aren’t necessarily well known, as at times there can be misconceptions about these groups and it’s interesting to hear straight from the horse’s mouth what it’s like for them.”

Finn mentioned some particularly interesting and popular talks from last year, including their flagship event, a talk by Father Jose Antonio Fortea, one of the leading exorcists of the Vatican, which left the GMB chamber “packed.” This definitely piqued my interest, but where was the Theo this year? “There were some logistical challenges in setting up which is why we didn’t have a programme for Michaelmas Term, so that meant that we didn’t necessarily have that much of a presence,” Finn admitted. When pressed on what these “logistical challenges” consisted of, he elaborated that “what happened was that the person who was selected auditor was then selected to go on an Erasmus and internally there was miscommunication with the transfer of power.” This lead to an EGM on the 17th of October for the position of auditor of the society.

However, the Theo appear to be back and plan on “really focusing on Hilary term, just because on the timing and logistics thing we couldn’t do major events [this term].” The Theo ran a debate in collaboration with the Phil on November 24, debating whether “Religion Does More Harm Than Good.” They’re also exploring “things in Dublin like various tours, sites in Ireland, and more guest speakers.” Membership figures for the year “would be lower than it would be normally just account of our late start up,” Finn acknowledged, but the Theo have a myriad of plans to boost this, including an “active PR campaign, sign-up’s in the Arts block and before events,” and “finding a main headline event that really brings a crowd of people,” this Hilary term.

Finn’s enthusiasm and vision is reassuring, and promises to make up for the rocky start and setbacks of Michaelmas term. So be sure to watch out for the resurrection of the Theo next semester.