“If God is a dialogical unity [referring to the Trinity], a being in relation, the human creature made in his image and likeness reflects this constitution: thus he is called to fulfil himself in dialogue, in conversation, in encounter.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Homily for Trinity Sunday (2008).)


Courses Outline - 2020

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All Courses held at Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, The Rocks, Sydney.

February 2020
Writing Your Life I: A Freeing Journey
Presenter: Catherine Hammond BS in Ed, MA, MPh
4 Tuesday mornings, 10am – 12noon, February 4, 11, 18, 25.
Cost: $150/person (Including class notes)

Developing Your Own Spirituality I: Mystery and Freedom, Participation and Possibility
Presenters: Michael Whelan SM, PhD & Marie Biddle, RSJ, MA, MTh
4 Thursday evenings, 6pm – 8pm, February 6, 13, 20, 27
Cost: $150/person (Including summary notes)

Film Lectio I: Woman in Gold

See full list

"Comments on" and "Response to" Michael Whelan's Book Review

See Article "Problem-solving has Little to Offer in the Face of Evil" on this website

Comments on Michael Whelan’s Review of the book: Abuse and Cover-Up: Refounding the Catholic Church in Trauma (Orbis Books, 2019), by author Gerald A. Arbuckle, SM.

I am grateful to fellow Marists Michael for his review and to Tom Ryan for his Response that are on this website. They have tried to engage my book seriously. I offer a few reflections in light of their interchanges.

Read more ...

The Power of Vulnerability

Brené Brown
JBrene Brown

Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. See this TED Talk here

Connected, but alone

Sherry Turkle

As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other? Sherry Turkle studies how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication -- and asks us to think deeply about the new kinds of connection we want to have. See this TED Talk here

An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow

Les Murray

17 Oct 1938 – 29 Apr 2019
Les, the Poet Larrikin' (Les Murray) by Bob Baird 1999

The word goes round Repins,
the murmur goes round Lorenzinis,
at Tattersalls, men look up from sheets of numbers,
the Stock Exchange scribblers forget the chalk in their hands
and men with bread in their pockets leave the Greek Club:
There's a fellow crying in Martin Place. They can't stop him.

Read more

Lecture - To Change the Heart: A Biblical Defense of Pope Francis

JDr Robert Tilley 2
Dr Robert Tilley
Thursday 12 Sept, 7pm
CIS Campus Strathfield

If there is one message that the Bible imparts it is that it is impossible for humanity, unaided by the grace of God, to change its heart. Thus in Scripture we read how people can see miraculous healings, the dead raised, amazing displays of divine power, be warned by prophets of coming judgment, and yet for all of that they stay unchanged. But God ...See here for details

"Nazareth" - a Marist place of solitude and silence

JNazareth 2

See the new "Nazareth" video tour to learn more about this very special place.

 Aquinas Academy has established a place of solitude and silence. It is located on the Colo River about 75 minutes drive from the heart of Sydney. Click here for more information.

Fr John Thornhill SM RIP

JJohn Thornhill sm 2

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

Read more ...

Is Cardinal Pell a Martyr?

The Australian Church Tries to Move On

Because he has a weak heart and must build strength in his chest muscles, the seventy-seven-year-old Australian cardinal asks for a broom he can push around the jail’s exercise yard each day. The remaining twenty-three hours of his solitary confinement in Melbourne Assessment Prison George Pell reads and writes, when not sleeping and praying. He is not allowed to say Mass. Read more

Ideological bias cannot taint our approach to sexual abuse

By Matt Malone, S.J.
Pope Benedict XVI

Since last summer I have taken part in about a dozen panels and programs across this country that were organized to discuss the causes and consequences of the crisis of sexual abuse of minors by members of the Catholic clergy. I have visited several cities and met people from every walk of life—victims, survivors, bishops, priests and religious, lay leaders, moms and dads, young and old. Read more

Parsing the Australian Catholic bishops' election advice

By Andrew Hamilton

Tentative prelates dip their toe into the water after a freezing winter.

The Australian Catholic Bishops' statement on the upcoming federal election, 'Politics in Service of Peace', is significant as much for the fact that it was made as for its argument.

It comes in the middle of a long, bruising time for the Catholic Church, and for the bishops in particular, culminating in the trial and sentencing of Cardinal George Pell.

When speaking on moral issues the bishops have lost much credibility in the wider society and among Catholics. Read more

Outline of Courses for 2019 (Updated)

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New Courses and changed dates shown in this colour.

May/June 2019

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
Cost: $150/person

Day of Silence and Solitude: May 4
Where: At “Nazareth”, Colo Heights
Cost: $50

Mysticism: Plain or Flavoured?
Presenter: Thomas Ryan, SM, PhD
When: 4 Tuesday mornings, 10am – 12 noon, May 7, 14, 21, 28
Cost: $150/person

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

Read more ...

Close and Concrete: Pope Francis Evangelizing a World in Flux

JAusten Ivereigh D.Phil
   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
JSt Patrick

“Remembering well”
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.”

Read more ...

The sex-abuse crisis is global

And the Vatican knows it
JPope Francis and bishops

2018 was the year that many Catholics finally accepted that the church's sex-abuse crisis is truly a global problem. Hence the Vatican's decision to bring the presidents of all the bishops' conferences together in Rome to discuss the issue between February 21 and 24.

The abuse crisis forces us to look at the interconnectedness of the church, and to resist the spirit of our time, which not only closes borders and builds walls, but also blinds us to how what's happening in one part of the world relates to what's happening in another.

Of course, we Catholics have all been taught that the church is the Body of Christ, and that if one member of that body suffers, the entire body suffers. Read more

'Red Hat Report' to 'audit' cardinals, ahead of next conclave

By Tom Roberts
JCardinals Procession

A group of Catholics calling itself the Better Church Governance Group is gearing up to compile dossiers "in the manner of political opposition research" on cardinal electors ahead of the next conclave, the gathering that elects a new pope.

Although its publicly available literature casts the effort as non-political and one that is interested in gathering and collating information, an early memo associated with the effort drew severe conclusions about one of its targets, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state and a member of Pope Francis' Council of Cardinals. Read more


Transparency key to tackling sexual abuse, says Vatican official

Catholic Church authorities' response of denial, silence and cover-ups in the past had only exacerbated the problem.
JPress Conference

The Vatican's leading investigator of clergy abuse cases has made it clear that if a priest stands accused of sexually abusing a child "whether it's criminal or malicious complicity and a code of silence or whether it is denial," such reactions are no longer tolerable.

Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta, Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and a member of the Organizing Committee for the Protection of Minors in the Church Meeting was speaking to reporters Feb. 18 regarding the meeting that will take place in the Vatican Feb. 21-24. Read more

Australia Day can be a time for hope, not resentment

Stan Grant
JStan Grant

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

Religious freedom in secular Australia

Frank Brennan
J Religious Freedom

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