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.
St Patrick's Feast Day 2019
Homily at the midday Mass, Michael Whelan SM
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.”
Q & A Session - Dealing with Addictions
The Spirituality of the Twelve Steps
1:30pm - 3:30pm
Sunday 7 April
Please note new date
The Crypt, St Patricks Church, Grosvenor Street, The Rocks
All welcome. Free.
Hosted by James & John
“A.A.’s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole. .... Many people, non-alcoholic, report that as a result of the practice of A.A.’s Twelve Steps, they have been able to meet other difficulties of life. They think that the Twelve Steps can mean more than sobriety for problem drinkers. They see in them a way to happy and effective living for many, alcoholic or not” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, 15-16).
Outline of Courses for 2019 (Updated)
All Courses are held at Aquinas Academy, Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, The Rocks, Sydney and include class notes.
New Courses and changed dates shown in this colour.
Riding out the Storm
Presenter: Catherine Hammond BS in Ed, MA, MPh
When: 4 Tuesday mornings, 10am – 12noon, March 5, 12, 19, 26
Presenter: Ailsa Piper
When: 3 Wednesday mornings, 10am – 12noon, March 6, 13, 20
Developing Your Own Spirituality III
Presenters: Michael Whelan SM, PhD & Marie Biddle, RSJ, MA, MTh
When: 4 Wednesday evenings, 6pm – 8pm, March 6, 13, 20, 27
The sex-abuse crisis is global
And the Vatican knows it
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
Film Lectio I - Romero
Starts 10am Wednesday March 27
Repeated 6pm Thursday Mar 28
The recent beatification of Óscar Romero, has drawn new attention to the gap between public perception and reality regarding this popular but controverted figure in El Salvador’s turbulent history. The first feature film from the Paulist Fathers’ moviemaking division, John Duigan’s Romero tells the true story of Latin America’s best-known and most revered modern martyr.
Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Goldamez, Archbishop of El Salvador, was assisinated in 1980, a man whom John Paul II described as a "zealous pastor who gave his life for his flock."
Course: Developing Your Own Spirituality, Unit III
Remembering & anticipating, imagining & feeling
Starts 10am Thu May 2
(This is a repeat of the March Course)
In Unit I we focused on some general principles underlying the development of a healthy spirituality. In Unit II we began to focus more on particular concrete facets of spirituality. In Unit III we will continue to do that. We often hear the advice: “Forgive and forget”. Why might this be very bad advice? What is the relationship between the past and the future in shaping the human journey?
What place do images, symbols and rituals have in human thriving? Can we think well without imagination being a crucial part of the process? What part do feelings play in our becoming fully alive? What happens when we do not integrate our feelings into our daily living? What happens when we do integrate our feelings in our daily living?
Course: Mysticism - Plain or Flavoured?
Thomas Ryan SM PhD
Starts 10am Tue May 7
What exactly is meant by ‘mysticism’ and ‘mystics? Often the words are associated with special people having special experiences of the divine. Alternatively, what did Karl Rahner SJ mean when he said over 50 years ago that ‘the Christian of tomorrow will either be a mystic—someone who has “experienced” something—or nothing at all’?
This four-week seminar considers these two questions. The first week taps our Christian tradition about a proper understanding of ‘mysticism’ and ‘mystics.’ The next three weeks, using passages from their writings, explores what we can learn from two 20th century authors about mysticism and the presence of God at work in their lives.
Of God and Safeguarding
Thomas Ryan sm
Safeguarding, protection of children and vulnerable adults: protocols, police checks, training. Who would have imagined these words as daily currency in the Catholic Church 20 years ago? Since then, we’ve been confronted by the devastating moral failure of the Church (and other institutions) – in public ministry and leadership.
The sexual abuse crisis, it has been said, is, perhaps, the Church’s 9/11. We are called to confront deliberate denial and evil. This requires, most importantly, acknowledging the pain and suffering of victims and survivors and a determination to stand with them.
Spiritual Practices and Attitudes 8. Conscience and Vocation
Notes by Michael Whelan SM
Our existence – our very being – is what it is. In that, it demands our “Yes!” It awaits our agreement and affirmation, as it were. Life is a journey in which we gradually join our “Yes!” with the “Yes!’ of our beings. This is always a shifting centre of gravity, from self-centredness towards self-transcendence.
Thomas Merton sums it up nicely:
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. (Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Image Books, 1968/1989, 266.)
Merton then goes on to draw our attention to the complexities of this in our living out the journey towards a complete “Yes!”:
Gospel for the Third Sunday of Lent (24 March 2019)
Gospel Notes by Michael Whelan SM
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down’” (Luke 13:1-9 – NRSV)