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.
"Nazareth" - a Marist place of solitude and silence
Fr John Thornhill SM RIP
Fr John Thornhill SM died on Sunday evening 28 July. John was professed as a Marist in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1955. He made an outstanding contribution as a theologian both in Australia – where he was involved for many years with the Marist Seminary at Toongabbie, the Catholic Theological Union at Hunter’s Hill and the Aquinas Academy
Course: The Tragedy of Sexual Abuse - Where are we now?
Dr Gerard Webster
Starts Friday Oct 18
“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
It is almost two years since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse published its findings. We are now faced
Course: The Poetry of Grace V
Sacred Silence in T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets with a special focus on “Little Gidding”.
Starts Wednesday Nov 6
This four part seminar series will explore the ways in which poetry seeks to express the inexpressible. In T.S. Eliot’s own words from “Burnt Norton” ( the first of the four quartets):
Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Course: Developing Your Own Spirituality, Unit IV
Idealizations & detachment, social presence & obedience
(Starts 6pm Thu Nov 7)
In Unit IV – the final Unit in this Course – we will pay particular attention to four major issues in spirituality: Idealization – a psychological process whereby we pursue an image of the way things should be rather than a conversation with the way things are; detachment – a subtle but profound disposition that comes to us as a grace when we learn to receive it; social presence – all spirituality is essentially and irrevocably social, never merely private, always focusing our lives on building and maintaining living relationships, in other words, community tending; obedience – attentive listening,
Problem-solving has Little to Offer in the Face of Evil
A Book Review
Michael Whelan SM
Gerald A Arbuckle SM, Abuse and Cover-Up: Refounding the Catholic Church in Trauma, Orbis Books, 2019, footnotes, index, 226 pages, pb.
Two preliminary comments
The first comment arises from my own experience of appearing as a witness, together with Fr David Ranson, at the Royal Commission on the afternoon of Monday 6 February 2017. Read full Review
Silence Speaks Truthfully
Notes to a presentation by Michael Whelan SM PhD
Sacred Silence in Literature and the Arts Conference 2019
Friday 4 October 2019, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield.
This presentation is a meditation. Silence is approached as an attribute of Being – not something we invent or impose. Something beyond mere absence of noise.
1. Breathing exercise – 10 minutes. Explain briefly.
2. Read excerpts from Les Murray’s “Noonday Axeman”
You are encouraged to read this poem before reading the following text. You can find this poem at poemhunter
For full presentation text click:
Do we dare to dream? Catalyst for Renewal QandA
The crypt, Sunday 22 September 2019. Notes by Michael Whelan SM
Spirituality and religion are of a piece. A good working definition of spirituality is living relationships – with God (however we name God), with ourselves, with other people and with the world at large. We are all constituted in and through our relationships. A good working definition of religion is spirituality incarnated – the actual institutional structures, organizational processes, rituals, symbols etc that enable our relationships to flourish.
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 the Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (10 November 2019)
Gospel Notes by Michael Whelan SM
Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”
Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” (Luke 20:27-38 – NRSV).