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.
Aquinas Covid-19 Safety Plan
St Patrick’s Parish Covid-19 Safety plan covers Aquinas Academy. The Parish plan is registered with the State Government and may be viewed on the Parish web site.
A copy of this plan is also available here.
Specific procedures applying at Aquinas Academy are as follows: Chairs, table tops and other surfaces are disinfected prior to all classes; coffee and tea and biscuits are served rather than self-served.
Michael Whelan SM PhD, Director
Sandwiches for the homeless in London
Br Ivan Vodopivec sm writes from Notre Dame de France, London: Normally on a Saturday morning our parish centre would be full of volunteers preparing sandwiches, crisps, cakes, biscuits, fruit and soup ready to welcome our 100 -120 visitors, most of them living on the streets or vulnerably housed. But on March 14th that all stopped. The normally lively bustling Leicester square with hundreds of people on the go became a still and quiet and somewhat eerie space. Read more
Laudato Si' - Special Anniversary Year
24 May 2020 - 24 May 2021
On 24 May 2015 Pope Francis signed Laudato Si’, the watershed encyclical letter that called world’s attention to the increasingly precarious state of our common home. Five years on the encyclical appears ever more relevant. The multiple “cracks in the planet that we inhabit” (LS, 163), from the melting ice caps in the Arctic to the raging wildfires in the Amazon, from extreme weather patterns around the world to unprecedented levels of loss of biodiversity that sustain the very fabric of life, are too evident and detrimental to be ignored any more. Pope Francis’ prophetic words continue to ring in our ears: “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, Read full article
Winton Higgins, Albert Camus and Pope Francis
Winton Higgins is a distinguished writer, Secular Buddhist teacher and Holocaust scholar. He tells us the story of Le Chambon. In 1940 the writer Camus was sent there for his TB but while writing The Plague, he observed a conspiracy of goodness. The community was committed to saving the lives of many Jewish people and helping them escape to Switzerland. As plague force global emissions in our time are temporarily lessened by flights, cruises and industry being locked down for the pandemic, many are re-reading The Plague. Winton discusses ... More information and to listen
"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.
Course: Developing Your Own Spirituality, Unit I
Mystery & Freedom, Participation & Possibility
Starts Thursday 6 August
The aim of this course is to assist participants to develop an approach to everyday living which will promote a well-grounded personal spirituality. Spirituality is first and last about relationships – with God (however you name God), yourself, other people and the events and things of the world. Spirituality is never private though it is always personal. It begins by listening effectively – “with the ear of the heart” as St Benedict says – to what is going on.
By Michael Whelan SM
Three months before he died on 7 March 1274, St Thomas Aquinas had an extraordinary “experience” while celebrating Mass. As a result of this “experience”, St Thomas refused to do any further work on the Summa Theologica – his major life project. The English Dominican Thomistic scholar, Brian Davies, tells us that Aquinas’ secretary, Reginald of Piperno, begged him to return to the writing. St Thomas replied: "Reginald, I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me" (Brian Davies, The Thought of Thomas Aquinas, Oxford University Press, 1993, 9).
The self-emptying of Divine Presence
Notes by Michael Whelan SM
•“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’
Spiritual Practices and Attitudes 10 - Eucharist: Bread of Life
Notes by Michael Whelan SM
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2002) goes to the heart of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist:
The sacrificial nature of the Mass, solemnly asserted by the Council of Trent in accordance with the Church’s universal tradition, [Ecumenical Council of Trent, Session 22, Doctrina de ss. Missae sacrificio, 17 September 1562 : Enchiridion Symbolorum, H. Denzinger and A. Schönmetzer, editors (editio XXXIII, Freiburg: Herder, 1965; hereafter, Denz-Schön), 1738-1759.] was reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council, which offered these significant words about the Mass: ‘At the Last Supper our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood, by which he would perpetuate the Sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until he should come again, thus entrusting to the Church, his beloved Bride, the memorial of his death and resurrection.’
Gospel for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (26 July 2020)
Gospel Notes by Michael Whelan SM
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-45 – NRSV)
These two parables are unique to Matthew. They form part of the so-called “day of parables” found in Chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel. These parables – and the parable of the dragnet which follows – is not so much concerned with those who reject Jesus but the nature of the kingdom and what happens in the lives of those who embrace it.
Daniel Harrington writes: “Again the kingdom is compared to the whole picture that follows. The two parables (the treasure and the pearl) probably circulated as a pair. They were included in Matthew’s ‘day of parables’ on the catchword basis of the term ‘field’ in the first parable. Political conditions in Palestine and the continuing threat of invasion made the burial of one’s valuables a common way of protecting them. The implication here seems to be that the present owner had no knowledge of what was hidden in the field. The rabbis debated precisely this point—whether the buyer of the field is entitled to any treasure found in it (Lachs, 229). The parable assumes that he was.” (Daniel J Harrington, The Gospel of Matthew, Liturgical Press, 2007, 207.)