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.
Film Lectio II - Cinema Paradiso
Starts Tuesday 31 August
Cinema Paradiso is told largely in the flashback of a successful film director Salvatore to his childhood years. It also tells the story of the return to his native Sicilian village for the funeral of his old friend Alfredo, the projectionist at the local "Cinema Paradiso". Ultimately, Alfredo serves as a wise father figure to his young friend who only wishes to see him succeed, even if it means breaking his heart in the process.
Intertwining sentimentality with comedy, and nostalgia with pragmatism the film explores issues of youth, coming of age, and reflections (in adulthood) about the past – touching into our own reminiscences!
Course: An Australian Reading of Fratelli Tutti
Starts Thurs 2 September
Pope Francis’ 2020 encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, is a companion and complement to his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’. The latter addressed the ecological crisis and its manifestation in climate change, offering some constructive responses. The former, whilst naming some elements and potentially devastating consequences of the crisis of relationships in the human family, focuses on the possibilities of “fraternity and social friendship”.
Course: The Temple that is Scripture
Reading our way into the heart of the Word of God
Starts Tuesday 5 October
The Gospels present the crucifixion as being the fullness of the meaning of the Scriptures; the words of God are fulfilled in the Passion of the Incarnate Word of God. In a like manner, St Paul wrote that instead of concerning himself with miracles and philosophical wisdom he preached the word of the Cross.
Course: The Mystics - Pathfinders to the Spiritual III
Sr. Patty Andrew osu
New dates, starting Tuesday 2 November
Four sessions will be presented by Sr. Patty Andrew osu, featuring several men and women from the Christian mystical tradition who have illuminated the mystical path for those seeking a heart understanding of the divine. The series is a continuation of the work presented in 2020, however it is not necessary to have attended these sessions before taking part in the 2021 series.
Film Lectio II - The Other Son
Note: Course Cancelled
The film centers on Joseph Silberg (Jules Sitruk), who is about to turn 18 years old and serve in the Israeli Defence Forces. During routine tests, his family discovers his blood type is different from theirs. Through further testing, including DNA testing, the family discovers that Joseph is not their son.
An investigation is conducted by the hospital Joseph was born in. Due to a bombing attack that occurred on the night he was born, Joseph and another baby were taken to shelters for safety and switched by mistake.
Euthanasia: Some Questions & Issues Arising
A Paper by Michael Whelan SM PhD
Revised May 2021
“Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course”
(The Oath of Hippocrates, n 15)
Euthanasia is well and truly on the agenda in Australia and it is becoming increasingly difficult to sort out the fact from the fiction. Claims and counter-claims are made. The subject demands reasoned conversation and finely nuanced thinking. There is a lot at stake.
Read full Paper
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 11 - A Primary Conversation
Notes by Michael Whelan SM
“I will be with you!” [Exodus 3:12] This is not only a promise, it is an expression of the very nature of God. To be God is to be with! Jesus enfleshes this same promise and the Divine Nature: “And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Matthew 28:20).
We are made in the image and likeness of the One whose nature it is to be with. It is also our nature to be with. We are at our best when that “being with” is embraced generously and allowed to shape our lives. We thrive in constructive and life-giving relationships, we wither in the absence of such relationships. “Relationship is written into the very nature of human beings. As the Bible sees human beings, you cannot think about them, without recognizing that they are, as it were, made for relationship” (Aelred Squire, Asking the Fathers, SPCK, 1972, 20).
Gospel for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (1 August 2021)
Gospel Notes by Michael Whelan SM
So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you?