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.
Australia Day can be a time for hope, not resentment
Hope. On this Australia Day, that's what I'm thinking about: hope.
Odd, maybe — I am an Indigenous person — Kamilaroi, Wiradjuri, Dharrawall, to be more specific and respectful — you might expect me to talk about trauma, invasion, colonisation.
Certainly, those things cannot be ignored; those things that the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz once called "the memory of wounds".
These wounds are real; for so many, the legacy of this country's history hangs like a dead weight.
Where is hope? When we are reminded almost daily of the tragedy of Aboriginal youth suicide; children as young as 10 years old who cannot face another day of life in our country.
Yet, without hope, where are we? Read more
Death on demand: has euthanasia gone too far?
By Christopher de Bellaigue
Countries around the world are making it easier to choose the time and manner of your death. But doctors in the world’s euthanasia capital are starting to worry about the consequences.
Last year a Dutch doctor called Bert Keizer was summoned to the house of a man dying of lung cancer, in order to end his life. When Keizer and the nurse who was to assist him arrived, they found around 35 people gathered around the dying man’s bed. “They were drinking and guffawing and crying,” Keizer told me when I met him in Amsterdam recently. “It was boisterous. And I thought: ‘How am I going to cleave the waters?’ But the man knew exactly what to do. Read more
Outline of Courses for 2019
All Courses are held at Aquinas Academy, Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, The Rocks, Sydney and include class notes.
Reading Graciously: Mercy and the Heart in St Paul and Pope Francis
Presenter: Robert Tilley, PhD
When: 3 Wednesday mornings, 10am – 12noon, February 6, 13, 20
Development, Social Justice and Globalisation: An Experiential and Reflective Approach
Presenter: Joffre Balce, MSc Industrial Eonomics
When: 4 Friday evenings, 6pm – 8pm, Feb 8, 15, 22, Mar 1
Religious freedom in secular Australia
Seven months on, the Morrison government has published the Religious Freedom Review — a report of an expert panel chaired by Philip Ruddock. It has also published its response. The review was instituted by Malcolm Turnbull during the plebiscite on same sex marriage. Many 'yes' voters in the plebiscite were convinced that a change to the law of marriage would not make one iota of difference to freedom of religion in Australia. Many 'no' voters were worried that the changes could be frightful. The debate which then erupted about religious freedom when Parliament was legislating to recognise same sex marriage highlighted that Australian legislation at the Commonwealth and state level for the protection of all human rights, including freedom of religion, was at best patchy. Read more
Course: Riding out the Storm
Starts 10am Tues Mar 5
This course will take an honest look at where we are as Chuch, how we’re affected by the current crisis and what our hopes are for the forthcoming national pastoral council here in Australia. It will concentrate on how people of faith, past and present, women and men, have ridden periods of confusion and corruption and are still doing so.
Our special focus will be on some amazing women, like Catherine of Sienna, Julian of Norwich, and Mary McKillop, as well as courageous men, like Francis of Assisi, John of the Cross and Oscar Romero – people who lived through scandalous times for the Church and society, and found a way through it all for themselves and others.
Course: Walking Home
Starts 10am Wed Mar 6
Ailsa Piper is a story-teller, having worked for over thirty-five years as a writer, director, actor, teacher, speaker and broadcaster.
As a writer, she works across many mediums. Highlights include being named co-winner of the Patrick White Playwright’s Award for her script Small Mercies in 2001 and publishing her first book Sinning Across Spain in 2012. Her most recent book, co-authored with Monsignor Tony Doherty, is The Attachment: Letters From A Most Unlikely Friendship. It is a collection of letters between them, and to the reader, exploring spirituality, friendship, difference - and the right time of day to eat rhubarb!
Course: Developing Your Own Spirituality, Unit III
Remembering & anticipating, imagining & feeling
Starts 6pm Wed March 6
Repeated 10am May 2
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?
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 8. Conscience and Vocation
Notes by Michael Whelan SM
Our existence – our very being – is what it is. In that, it demands our “Yes!” It awaits our agreement and affirmation, as it were. Life is a journey in which we gradually join our “Yes!” with the “Yes!’ of our beings. This is always a shifting centre of gravity, from self-centredness towards self-transcendence.
Thomas Merton sums it up nicely:
If we take a more living and more Christian perspective we find in ourselves a simple affirmation which is not of ourselves. It simply is. (Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Image Books, 1968/1989, 266.)
Merton then goes on to draw our attention to the complexities of this in our living out the journey towards a complete “Yes!”:
Gospel for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (17 February 2019)
Gospel Notes by Michael Whelan SM
He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases.
Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:17 & 20-26 – NRSV)