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.
Forthcoming Courses in 2018
All Courses are held at Aquinas Academy, Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, The Rocks and include class notes.
t Living! Not just Coping: A Contemplative Psychology for our Times
Presenter: Catherine Hammond BS in Ed, MA, MPh
When: 4 Wednesday mornings, 10am - 12noon, May 2 - 23
t Developing Your Own Spirituality I
Presenters: Michael Whelan SM, PhD & Marie Biddle, RSJ, MA, MTh
When: 4 Thursday mornings, 10am - 12noon, May 17 - June 7
Pope Francis admits ‘serious errors’ in handling of Chilean sex abuse cases
In what has the appearance of the beginning of an earthquake in the Chilean church, Pope Francis has sent a strong letter to the Chilean bishops in which he speaks of his “pain and shame” on receiving the report on the abuse scandal in Chile from Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta. He had sent Archbishop Scicluna to listen to the victims of abuse last February.
In the three-page letter, he admits his own “serious mistakes” in dealing with this scandal and asks for forgiveness and goes on to take two dramatic steps: He summons the entire Chilean hierarchy ... Read more
Clerical culture produces poor fruit
In a recent Eureka Street article I remarked that in the Catholic Church clericalism is a pejorative term. I tried also to identify some of the attitudes and behaviour associated with people regarded as clericalist. The article sparked a lively conversation.
Some contributors criticised me for focusing on individuals and not on the more insidious culture of clericalism. The criticism was justified, and in this article I shall reflect on the culture and its byproducts.
As a culture clericalism displays a world view in which the Catholic Church is a self-sufficient world. Its security, reputation and ... Read more
Enneagram Intensive Training & Weekend Workshop
The Enneagram Six Day Intensive Training Program is both a stand alone course and Part 1 of the Enneagram Professional Training Program. This updated course offers a deep, transformative experience of the Enneagram, focusing on the integration of psychology, spirituality and somatics. The course includes a full examination of the nine distinct type structures, with expanded attention to the spiritual and somatic aspects of each type. Another key element of the training examines how the types show up in relationships.
Compass, Episode 1: Confess
Is the need to confess an imperative all humans share?
Kumi Taguchi reveals what confession looks like today; the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Catholic tradition and a secular urban confession offered on street corners.
This programme was originally broadcast on Saturday 3 March 2018. Click here to view
Conscience, hope and the double bind
Michael Whelan SM
One of the most wonderful gifts one human being can give another is the sense of realistic possibility. The presence of faith, hope and love tends to do this for us – especially when we are young and vulnerable. When others – typically parents – communicate faith in us, hope for us and love no matter what, it can awaken a realistic sense of our own dignity and worth and allow us to engage the world with some confidence and honesty. It tends to engender in us a life-giving sense of possibility, preparing us for adulthood ...
Course: Focusing - A way towards more reflective living
Listening to your body can change your life. Aaffien de Vries, Focusing Trainer
Sue Burrell/Merilyn Mayhew
Registration closes 8 April
Starts Tuesday 17 April
Father Michael Whelan and Sister Marie Biddle, in the Aquinas course Developing Your Own Spirituality, say, “Jesus comes to us disguised as our life.” They encourage us to pay attention to what is happening in the present moment, to pause and consider how to respond. They recommend the body-based awareness practice of Focusing as a key way to become present and pay attention to the movement of Spirit in our lives, and to know ourselves and others more intimately.
Course: Living! Not just Coping
A Contemplative Psychology for our Times
Starts Wednesday 2 May
Based on the classic by psychiatrist Gerald May, this course will explore the implications of being willing rather than willful in living life to the full – not just ‘getting by’.
* Willingness: openness to surrender to a reality greater than oneself;
* Willfulness: setting oneself apart from the deepest reality in an attempt to master one’s own destiny.
Illustrating the way a willing attitude can change one’s whole outlook, we’ll turn to some outstanding women and men to see how they approached challenges and dark periods in their lives:
Spiritual Practices and Attitudes 5 – The Grace of the Present Moment
Notes by Michael Whelan SM
“I will be with you!” [Exodus 3:12]
“What does it profit if you gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit your very self?” [Luke 9:25]
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not worry about your life’” [Luke 12:22]
The French Jesuit, Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751), writes: “God speaks to every individual through what happens to them moment by moment.... The events of each moment are stamped with the will of God... we find all that is necessary in the present moment. If we have abandoned ourselves to God, there is only one rule for us: the duty of the present moment.” [Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence, Image, 1975, 10.]
This is a particular – and very practical – example of the Catholic understanding of sacramentality: in and through time we encounter eternity, in and through the material we encounter the spiritual, in and through the human we encounter the divine.
Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (22 April 2018)
Gospel Notes by Michael Whelan SM
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” (John 10:11-18 – NRSV)