New research partnership

The Jesuit-founded Loyola Institute, launched in 2021, will now operate in conjunction with ACU as its national university partner.

 SHOWING THE WAY TO GOD 

A new Melbourne-based national research institute was launched on 21 February by the Australian Catholic University (ACU) in partnership with the Australian Province of the Society of Jesus.

ACU Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Zlatko Skrbis and Australian Jesuits Provincial Fr Quyen Vu SJ officially launched the partnership between The Loyola Institute, a Jesuit initiative, and ACU.

The ACU Melbourne campus is the official home of The Loyola Institute (TLI), established by the Australian Jesuits in 2021 to promote the research and advocacy of Jesuit scholars in Australia and abroad. The Institute brings together ACU experts in various sectors of the university with Australian and international Jesuit scholars to work on collaborative research projects that align with the Society’s apostolic priorities.

“The vision for the Loyola Institute encompasses a vibrant space for research and the exchange of intellectual knowledge, poised to make a distinctive contribution not only to the Church but also to the broader academic community” said Fr Quyen Vu SJ.

Fr Quyen Vu SJ. Photo: Janark Gray

The new partnership builds on a formal agreement between ACU’s Faculty of Theology and Philosophy and the Australian Jesuits to deliver Ignatian Spirituality and Ministry Supervision post-graduate courses previously offered by the now-closed Jesuit College of Spirituality.

Chair of The Loyola Institute, Fr Daniel Madigan SJ, said the Jesuits are grateful to have ACU as their national university partner. “TLI was established to encourage collaboration among Jesuit scholars and our colleagues in Australia as well as with broad international networks. An institutional partner like ACU is essential to such a project, and almost all of our scholars will be working in an honorary capacity.

“Not surprisingly, our priorities for research and advocacy include several areas that are also important to ACU’s teaching and research: for example, the Church and human rights (including questions of indigenous rights, disability, refugee policy, social services, ethics and public policy); contemporary Catholic theologies in this ‘change of epoch’, as Pope Francis calls it; comparative theology and interreligious engagement; mission formation for Catholic institutional leadership; and the search for adequate responses to the profound questions raised for the Church by the clerical abuse crisis.”

Fr Frank Brennan SJ outlined how the experience of Jesuit organisations, in particular Jesuit Refugee Services and Jesuit Social Services, will be a valuable resource in the area of human rights for ACU. Fr Frank also highlighted the importance of collaboration between Jesuit organisations, Jesuit scholars, ACU and other universities to achieve positive outcomes in research and advocacy.

Associate Professor Jamie Calder SJ is an academic, registered and practising psychologist with a clinical specialisation primarily in abuse, violence and trauma. He has brought that experience into his theological endeavour where he has been working as a professor for the last seven years with ACU. He provided insights on his projects within theology. “I’ve always been motivated by the idea that our pastoral practice should be informed by research. That it should be an evidence-based practice.”

Executive Dean of ACU’s Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Associate Professor Richard Colledge, said the university was privileged to host a research institute in support of the Australian Jesuits. “The Australian Jesuits are a mainstay of Australian Christian life, specifically in their contribution to the intellectual and spiritual fabric of our nation,” he said.

“Australian Catholic University is proud to uphold the Australian Jesuit legacy by partnering with them on higher education research that supports their key apostolic goals both in Australia and internationally. Our new partnership with the Australian Jesuits will foster unique connections with the Order’s global network of scholars and strengthen the research capacity of both institutions. We look forward to partnering with the Australian Jesuits in strengthening our mission.”

The Australian Jesuits join a growing list of religious orders that make up Australian Catholic University’s history, including the De La Salle Brothers, the Dominican Sisters, the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of St Joseph, and the Christian Brothers.

Founded in 1540 by St Ignatius Loyola, Jesuits have ministered in Australia since 1848, for the most part in the fields of secondary and tertiary education.

Photos by Janark Gray.

ACU - The Loyola Institute launch

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L-R: Fr Anthony Casamento (Vice-President, ACU), Fr Quyen Vu SJ, Ms Virginia Bourke (Pro-Chancellor, ACU), Fr Dan Madigan SJ, Prof Zlatko Skrbis (Vice-Chancellor and President of ACU). Photo: Janark Gray

To enquire about becoming a Jesuit in Australia, contact vocations@sjasl.org.au and for more info, visit our Vocations page.