On Wednesday, 30 September, Archbishop Denis Hart was guest of honour at a Dinner at St Mary's Hall, Melbourne University, hosted by Dr David Daintree, President of Campion College. Campion College was taking the opportunity to thank its Melbourne supporters for their continued assistance.
Campion College was opened in 2006 as Australia's first liberal arts tertiary college, with around 40 percent of its students hailing from Victoria.
Its Australian origins stem from the Campion Fellowship, a national association of Catholics formed in 1973 to provide adult education programs. However, the College has a wider and longer history, with an international input flowing from its contacts with overseas institutions, in Europe and North America.
From the 1970s, the Campion Fellowship enjoyed strong links with Catholic liberal arts colleges and universities in the US and, over time, developed a proposal to found a similar institution in Australia. The aim was to provide a broad education at undergraduate level, based on a similar curriculum of core subjects in the humanities and sciences suited to Australian cultural conditions and educational requirements.
The College was named after the famous 16th century Elizabethan Jesuit martyr, St Edmund Campion. He has long served as a patron of lay Catholic educational initiatives in Australia, beginning with the Campion Society in the 1930s.
In 2001, the Campion Foundation Limited was established as a public company to build upon this earlier work and to provide the necessary planning and financial support for the founding of Campion College Australia.
On 1 July 2005, Campion College was officially approved as a registered Australian higher education institution by the NSW Department of Education and Training. The College's foundation undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Arts in the Liberal Arts, was accredited on the same date.
The College's first staff members were appointed, a substantial academic library assembled, and comprehensive building renovations undertaken in preparation for the College's opening in 2006.
Campion's first graduation ceremony, on 5 December 2008, was a significant milestone, marking the first phase of the institution's development, as the inaugural students received their degrees. It confirmed the College's commitment to nurture future students in the liberal arts who will, by the quality of their education and the maturity of their religious faith, be able to live out a mission of leadership and service to society and the Church.
"The great argument for a Liberal Arts education is that it can train a person for life, not just for work", was Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's message for the inaugural graduation geremony at which he was represented by the Member for Blaxland, Jason Clare MHR.
Twelve young men and women received their degrees for Bachelor of Arts in the Liberal Arts in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney.
Jason Clare delivered the Prime Minister's comments and also presented each graduate with a personal letter of congratulations from Mr Rudd. His message included his endorsement of the importance of a liberal arts education and the Govern- ment's strong support for initiatives like Campion College. He said:
"It is often said today that education is the pathway to opportunity. It's certainly more today than ever before, with so many jobs requiring a strong and diverse set of skills. What Campion College also understands is that education is always much more than preparation for a job. It is also preparation for a life. This is why you can never separate values from education."
Kevin Rudd himself attended Marist College, Ashgrove, in Brisbane during his secondary education.
Bishop Kevin Manning of Parramatta delivered the occasional address in which he told the graduates that there were three qualities "which must underpin your deeds, great or otherwise. These are fearlessness in the advocacy of human dignity, love, and proclamation of the mission of Christ".
Many of the Campion College's needs come down to finance and what money can purchase. However, not all. There are other ways in which dedicated Catholics can assist Campion students:
* Scholarships provided by (Arch)dioceses and Catholic associations can enable Campion to make its facilities available to gifted young people from less affluent backgrounds.
* Sydney Catholic families can assist interstate students resident at Campion to find their feet in what can be a vast and lonely city on weekends.
* Catholic businessmen and employers in the inner West of Sydney can make available part- time jobs for Campion students, assured that they are likely to get the services of reliable young people.
* There are some older Campion students - and recent graduates - who are capable of speaking effectively. Catholic secondary school principals and senior staff can encourage them to speak to Catholic students in their schools.
Meanwhile, Campion is a new, thoroughly Catholic, tertiary College. Its needs are limitless: increasing accommodation for the expanding student body, a library and a chapel, to name but three vital areas.