Wednesday, April 26, 2006

National Students Conference

The Australian Catholic Students Association (ACSA), of which I am the National Vice-President, is holding its Annual National Conference in July. This year it will be held at Newman College, Melbourne University.

Work on the conference has been underway for a few months and we have locked in the following speakers:

Fr. Joseph Fessio SJ

Archbishop of Melbourne Dennis Hart will be presiding over Solemn Vespers (of a pontifical nature) on the Saturday night prior to the formal dinner.

At the formal dinner the Inaugural Archbishop Daniel Mannix Memorial Address will (hopefully) be given by the Archbishop of Perth Barry Hickey.

Other speakers on note include the Federal Employment Minister Kevin Andrews MP, Associate Professor Tracey Rowland and Bishop Julian Porteous.

I’m all fired up and looking forward to what will, no doubt, be an awesome weekend.

It will interesting to note the opinions of the clergy in attendance about the presence of Kevin Andrews. Mr. Andrews as Minister for Workplace Relations was responsible for delivering the recent reforms to which the Australian Church took a dim view. I do hope, but cannot guarantee, that they will brush over these differences for the occasion and listen to Mr. Andrews speak on Catholics in Politics and the Public Sphere. He will, I’m sure, be able to speak widely on the recent debates on RU486 and embryonic stem-cells and of course the EUTHANASIA NO campaign with which he cemented his stripes as a Catholic politician.

However the drawcard will not be Kevin Andrews but Fr. Fessio.

Here is his brief bio on the Ignatius Press website.

Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., (shown here with Ratzinger in 1999) Provost of Ave Maria University and Editor-in-Chief of Ignatius Press, is a longtime personal friend of Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

Ignatius Press is the primary U.S. publisher of his works, having issued some 25 books.

Pope Benedict XVI was Fr. Fessio's doctoral director and mentor at the University of Regensburg in then West Germany from 1972-1975. As a member of Ratzinger's "Schulerkreis" or group of former students, Fr. Fessio participated in many of the yearly three-day-long gatherings of that group.

In 1989, Fr. Fessio, along with then Frs. Schoeborn and Marc Ouellet, and another fellow Jesuit, established under Cardinal Ratzinger's patronage, a house of formation in Rome, Casa Balthasar. The house takes inspiration from the life and works of two theologians who were highly regarded by, and close friends of John Paul II and Benedict XVI: Fr. Henri de Lubac, S.J. (made a cardinal by John Paul II in 1983) and Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar (named cardinal by John Paul II in 1988).

The late Frs. de Lubac and Balthasar's books are published by Ignatius Press.

Every year from 1989 to the present, Fr. Fessio has traveled to Rome for the annual meeting of the directors of Casa Balthasar, which is attended by Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), Fr. Ouellet (now cardinal of Quebec), and Fr. Schoenborn (now cardinal of Vienna).

Now if this kind of conference can’t motivate students to publicly take a Catholic stand and further discover Truth, I’ll be damned to find something else that will (in present Australia).