Perhaps the most important event in the recent history of Australian Catholic higher education is set to occur in July 2001 with the official opening of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne. Its students will be drawn from Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. The Institute will provide a full range of degrees, ranging from one-year graduate diplomas to higher research and course work degrees in the areas of marriage, family and bio-ethics.
The Institute is part of a growing worldwide network connected with the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family established by John Paul II in 1982 through Magnum Matrimonii Sacramentum, his Apostolic Constitution. Countries where Institute branches have been - or will be - set up include the USA, Mexico, Spain, Benin, Brazil, India, Austria and Ireland.
Culture of Life
Archbishop George Pell outlined the operation of the Melbourne Institute as follows: "Working in conjunction with the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies of Marriage and the Family around the world and with the University of Notre Dame in Perth, the Melbourne Institute will provide theological and pastoral training for priests and religious, teachers, catechists, pastoral workers, nurses and physicians, and lay people interested in deepening their understanding of the issues touching marriage, family and the culture of life in our world today."
The Director of the Institute is Very Rev Professor Anthony Fisher OP, internationally recognised as a leading expert on marriage, family and bio-ethical issues. The permanent faculty of the Institute will be complemented by visiting lecturers from Asia and the Pacific, Europe and the United States.
The John Paul II Institute is part of a growing Catholic theological complex in the heart of Melbourne, sharing its facilities with the Catholic Pastoral Formation Centre, the Catholic Theological College (where seminarians and lay people engage in undergraduate studies in philosophy and theology) and the Mannix Library (a major theological library). It will collaborate closely with the Archdiocesan Respect Life Office, which promotes the Gospel of Life in parishes, schools and hospitals in the Archdiocese.
It is within close proximity to the new St Patrick's Campus of the Australian Catholic University, other centres of philosophical and theological learning, St Patrick's Cathedral, the major Catholic hospitals, the Catholic Education Office, Catholic Social Services and the various offices of the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
The Institute is empowered to award Pontifical Degrees under the patronage of the Pontifical Lateran University, with which the Melbourne Institute is to be fully integrated by 2002. These qualifications will be recognised for degree purposes by the University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, WA.
Those teaching at the Institute will be mandated by the Church - in line with John Paul II's Ex Corde Ecclesiae - and students will be encouraged to participate in the liturgical and prayer life with fellow students and faculty in the Institute's chapel and at the nearby Cathedral. Mass, confession, the Prayer of the Church, Eucharistic Adoration and other devotions will be available, with the chapel open for students' private prayer. Retreat days are also planned.
In order to ensure adequate funds for the continuing operation of the Institute, a group called "Friends of the John Paul II Institute" - including Catholic laypeople from all walks of life - has established the "John Paul II Foundation" to "accumulate, invest and dispurse funds" in order to underwrite "visiting lecturers of international reputation", provide for students facing "considerable financial hardship" and assist students from poorer countries to undertake courses.
Among the various types of faculty (permanent or otherwise) will be Australian bishops, including Archbishops Philip Wilson and Barry Hickey, and other Australian experts in their fields - Msgr Peter Elliott, Dr Michael Casey, Dr Hayden Ramsay, Rev Dr John Fleming, Mrs Anna Krohn, Dr Tracey Rowland and Dr Warwick Neville.
The large complement of visiting faculty from overseas will include such well-known experts as Professors John M. Finniss, Luke Gormally, Rev Benedict Groeschel, Very Rev Aidan Nichols, John Saward, Ronda Chervin, William E. May, Mary Shivanandan, Donald De Marco and Germain Grisez.
Each year an internationally renowned speaker will be invited to give the Institute's annual lecture in memory of Rev Dr Francis Harman, a great advocate of the sanctity of marriage, family and life (see November 2000, AD2000, p. 8). The distinguished lecturer for 2001 will be Cardinal Alfonso Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Inquiries about the Institute, including enrolment, fees, scholarships, visas and language requirements can be made to the Registrar, Mrs Kathryn Allison, John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family, PO Box 146, East Melbourne, Vic 3002, (03) 9417 4349, fax (03) 9417 2107, email: firstname.lastname@example.org and website: http://www.melb.catholic.aust.com/JohnPaul/