"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. In our being there is a primordial yes that is not our own; it is not at our own disposal; it is not accessible to our inspection and understanding; we do not even fully experience it as real (except in rare and unique ' is something they never advert to at all. It is in fact absolutely unconscious, totally forgotten. Basically, however, my being is not an of Being itself, irrespective of my own choices. "Where do 'I' come in? Simply in uniting the 'yes' of my own freedom with the 'yes' of Being that already is before I have chosen to choose." [Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Image Books, 1968/1989, 266]


Aquinas Academy is Changing

JThomas Aquinas

Aquinas Logo

Aquinas Academy is transitioning from courses on-site to resources on-line.  A new web site is being built at the moment to accommodate this transition.  It is expected that this new web site will be up and running by mid-December 2021.
We had hoped to have some more courses this year before that transition was made. However, the long lockdown has made that impractical.  There will be no more Aquinas Academy events on-site this year. Next year we will hold some celebratory events to mark the ending of the onsite phase of the Aquinas Academy from 1945 to 2021. Seventy six very fruitful years!

Read more ...

The El Salvador Martyrs

JEl Salvadore Martyrs

Monsignor Peter Magee was serving in the Vatican Embassy in El Salvador in November 1989, when six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter were killed. Thirty years on, he recalls the social and political climate in El Salvador at the time, and his own vivid memories of visiting the site of the murders. ‘That moment had a profound impact on me and on my understanding of being a priest.’ Read more

Marist and Pacific Mission History

JTarban Creek Hunters Hill 01
Marist buildings near Tarban Creek, Hunters Hill. Painted 1854

Andrew Murray sm, PhD has completed a project to digitise and make available online a large number of books on Marist and Pacific Mission history. All the books are available for both viewing and downloading on Andrew's website, available here

Treat yourself to a wealth of information about this fascinating history!

"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.

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Sandwiches for the homeless in London

Marist JPIC

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
Jcaring for the world

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

Radio Interview

JCamus The Plague

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

Aquinas Courses Starting Again!

It's time to celebrate! 
A full range of Courses commences again from 21 July.

July/August 2020

t THE MYSTICS: The Pathfinders to the Spiritual II
Presenter: Sr. Patty Andrew
When: 4 Tuesday mornings, 10am-12noon; July 21, 28, August 4, 11
Cost: $150/person (Including summary notes)

August 2020

Presenters: Michael Whelan SM, PhD & Marie Biddle, RSJ, MA, MTh
When: 4 Thursday mornings, 10am – 12 noon, August 6, 13, 20, 27
Cost: $150/person (Including summary notes)

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Catalyst Dinner - Recovering the Mystical Heart of Catholicism

Catalyst Dinner, Hunters Hill, 3 March 2020
Michael Whelan SM


During the days of 17-20 November 1998 – on the sidelines of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ ad limina visit and the Special Assembly for the Synod of Bishops for Oceania, in Rome – representatives of seven Dicasteries and fifteen members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference met.

This meeting was at the request of Pope John Paul II. The Catholic media organization, Zenit, wrote at the time, that “similar meetings held with other Episcopal Conferences have proved to be equally beneficial as expressions of ecclesial communion”. Read full Talk in the link below.


Video Series: "The Cross ... Dying that Leads to Life"

Michael Whelan sm

An inspirational video series for Lent and Holy Week

Dying is not the enemy of living but the servant of living.
At the heart of our lives there is a profound paradox: the surrender and letting go is a dying that allows us to live; the refusal to embrace the dying leads us away from life into death.
Life is full of these moments where living and dying intersect.

These are some of the key reflections Michael Whelan opens up for us with insight, depth and relevance in this 6-episode video series, available now in the Emmaus Online Video Prayer and Meditation Library.

Follow this link for more information and to view a sample of the video series.

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

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

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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