The Aquinas Academy
The Aquinas Academy was set up under the auspices of the Australian Province of the Marist Fathers by Fr Austin Woodbury SM in March 1945. The Academy began as a centre for the study of Philosophy and Theology in the Thomistic tradition. For some twenty-nine years it continued in this capacity under Fr Woodbury's guidance, in premises at the back of St Patrick's Church, Gloucester Street, in The Rocks (Sydney, NSW). For a short while the Academy offered a License in Philosophy under accreditation from the University of St Thomas in Rome. Since its inception, a number of qualified priests, religious and laity have been part of the lecturing staff. The Academy was one of the pioneers of Catholic adult education in Australia.
Since 1975, the Academy has increasingly focused on general adult education in the faith. Perhaps the most popular of the programs mounted was the Christian Growth Program, offering basic education in theology, morality, psychology and spirituality.
Outline of Courses for 2019 (Updated)
New Courses and changed dates shown in this colour.
Developing Your Own Spirituality III
Presenters: Michael Whelan SM, PhD & Marie Biddle, RSJ, MA, MTh
When: 4 Thursday mornings, 10am – 12noon, May 2, 9, 16, 23
Day of Silence and Solitude: May 4
Where: At “Nazareth”, Colo Heights
Mysticism: Plain or Flavoured?
Presenter: Thomas Ryan, SM, PhD
When: 4 Tuesday mornings, 10am – 12 noon, May 7, 14, 21, 28
Film Lectio II: Bede Griffiths OSB - A Human Search and the New Creation in Christ
Presenters: Marie Biddle RSJ, MA, MTh & Michael Whelan SM, PhD
Close and Concrete: Pope Francis Evangelizing a World in Flux
Austen Ivereigh, D.Phil
The 2019 Helder Camara Lecture at Newman College, Close and Concrete: Pope Francis Evangelizing a World in Flux, was delivered by Dr. Austen Ivereigh who is a journalist, author and commentator.
He is a former deputy editor of The Tablet and was for a time Director for Public Affairs of the former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. Read the Lecture here.
St Patrick's Feast Day 2019
Homily at the midday Mass, Michael Whelan SM
Feast days are days for remembering. Today is our feast day. We remember the people, events and things of 175 years. This particular act of remembering by us here today, is grounded in a more general act of remembering by the Church. For the feast of St Patrick evokes a broad landscape of memories that belong to the whole Church and, we could say, the human race at large. As Sister Fidelis McTeigue is wont to remind us, there are two types of people in the world: Those who are Irish and those who want to be!
Remembering is a mysterious process. Among other things, it is crucial to our sense of identity. “If you do not know where you come from you will always be a child.”1 The words of the ancient Roman poet, Cicero. I would add: “If you don’t remember well your past, your future will be more or less stunted.”
Q & A Session - Dealing with Addictions
The Spirituality of the Twelve Steps
1:30pm - 3:30pm
Sunday 7 April
Please note new date
The Crypt, St Patricks Church, Grosvenor Street, The Rocks
All welcome. Free.
Hosted by James & John
“A.A.’s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole. .... Many people, non-alcoholic, report that as a result of the practice of A.A.’s Twelve Steps, they have been able to meet other difficulties of life. They think that the Twelve Steps can mean more than sobriety for problem drinkers. They see in them a way to happy and effective living for many, alcoholic or not” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, 15-16).
Course: Developing Your Own Spirituality, Unit III
Remembering & anticipating, imagining & feeling
Starts 10am Thu May 2
(This is a repeat of the March Course)
In Unit I we focused on some general principles underlying the development of a healthy spirituality. In Unit II we began to focus more on particular concrete facets of spirituality. In Unit III we will continue to do that. We often hear the advice: “Forgive and forget”. Why might this be very bad advice? What is the relationship between the past and the future in shaping the human journey?
What place do images, symbols and rituals have in human thriving? Can we think well without imagination being a crucial part of the process? What part do feelings play in our becoming fully alive? What happens when we do not integrate our feelings into our daily living? What happens when we do integrate our feelings in our daily living?
Course: Mysticism - Plain or Flavoured?
Thomas Ryan SM PhD
Starts 10am Tue May 7
What exactly is meant by ‘mysticism’ and ‘mystics? Often the words are associated with special people having special experiences of the divine. Alternatively, what did Karl Rahner SJ mean when he said over 50 years ago that ‘the Christian of tomorrow will either be a mystic—someone who has “experienced” something—or nothing at all’?
This four-week seminar considers these two questions. The first week taps our Christian tradition about a proper understanding of ‘mysticism’ and ‘mystics.’ The next three weeks, using passages from their writings, explores what we can learn from two 20th century authors about mysticism and the presence of God at work in their lives.
Film Lectio II - A Human Search and The New Creation in Christ
Starts 10am Wed May 22
Repeated 6pm Wed May 22
Born into English middle class in 1906 and Oxford educated, Bede Griffiths OSB was a brilliant religious scholar and prolific author. This film tells his story, from his experiment with communal living in the English countryside, to his decision to become a Benedictine brother, and his creation of a meeting place for East and West at an ashram in Southern India. It was there he spent his last 37 years as a Catholic monk living as a Hindu holyman.
He wrote many books widely viewed as spiritual classics, including The Golden String, Return to the Center, A New Vision of Reality, and The Marriage of East and West.
Of God and Safeguarding
Thomas Ryan sm
Safeguarding, protection of children and vulnerable adults: protocols, police checks, training. Who would have imagined these words as daily currency in the Catholic Church 20 years ago? Since then, we’ve been confronted by the devastating moral failure of the Church (and other institutions) – in public ministry and leadership.
The sexual abuse crisis, it has been said, is, perhaps, the Church’s 9/11. We are called to confront deliberate denial and evil. This requires, most importantly, acknowledging the pain and suffering of victims and survivors and a determination to stand with them.
Spiritual Practices and Attitudes 9 - I Sought and I Found
Notes by Michael Whelan SM
A few years before he died, the monk, Carlo Carretto (1910-1988), returned to Italy from the Sahara Desert, after many years living among the Bedouin. He wrote a document entitled, “I Sought and I Found”. There he tells of his inner journey and his struggles with God. He concludes the document with a letter to the church. The letter begins:
“How much I must criticise you, my church and yet how much I love you! You have made me suffer more than anyone and yet I owe you more than I owe anyone. I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence. You have given me much scandal and yet you alone have made me understand holiness.
Gospel for Easter Day (21 April 2019)
Gospel Notes by Michael Whelan SM
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened (Luke 24:1-12 – NRSV).