Melbourne News

ACSA Conference comes to Melbourne

Thursday 12 July 2012

By Fiona Basile
Kairos Catholic Journal

TWO hundred and thirty students and alumni attended the 2012 Australian Catholic Students Association conference held at Queens College in Parkville last weekend.

The students and past students, including numerous priests and religious, came from all over Australia to attend the conference which addressed the theme ‘Defending Human Dignity’.

The conference included talks from leading catholic clergy, academics, theologians and politicians including Professor Tracey Rowland from the John Paul II Institute of Marriage and Family, The Hon Kevin Andrews MP and Dr Matthew Tan from Campion College in Sydney.

The keynote speaker was international theologian and author Fr Aidan Nichols OP, a lecturer at Cambridge University in England and a Magister of Sacred Theology in the Dominican Order, who addressed the conference’s theme. While in Melbourne for the conference, Fr Aidan also launched his latest book Chalice of God: A systematic Theology in Outline on the Saturday afternoon at Mary Glowrey House in Fitzroy as part of an event hosted by the Caroline Chisholm Library and Anima Education.

The aim of this year’s ACSA conference was to examine and understand human dignity, and to provide arguments for defending human dignity—it also aimed to teach catholic students how they can respond to such challenges.

The conference's ongoing aim is to cultivate strong faith in young people by connecting them together, by providing rich liturgies and participation in the sacraments, and by inviting thought-provoking, insightful speakers to talk on a variety of topics.

ACSA President Justin Gill said, "I am immensely proud of this year's conference—it is a testament to the hard work of the whole executive and all those who assisted in bringing it to fruition.

“The conference is a great opportunity to bring together Catholic students from around the country to strengthen them in their faith, stimulate their minds and network with other likeminded students.”

"ACSA is important in forming and strengthening young Catholics in their faith to have the courage and ability to articulate a defence of their faith in our increasingly secular society."

There was also time for socialising at the conference—each year Victoria, NSW and Queensland go head to head in a state of origin rugby match on the Saturday afternoon. Historically Queensland has been the most successful team, however this year Victoria took victory honours.

The Mary Mackillop ball on the Saturday evening also provided conference participants an opportunity to celebrate the vital contribution of Catholics in Australian society. The ball’s Mannix Address was given be Christopher Pearson, journalist and columnist for The Australian newspaper.

For more information about the Australian Catholic Student Association, see 

Photos by Fiona Basile, Kairos Catholic Journal

Top photo: Dr Matthew Tan addresses the ACSA conference. He spoke on the topic 'Dignity at the Interface: Humany Dignity and Cyberculture'.

Bottom photo: Fr Aidan Nichols OP at his book launch.

ACSA: An Inspiring Experience

By Barry Coldrey

ACSA Conference 2012 was an outstanding success in spite of the Melbourne winter weather.

Almost 200 delegates from around Australia attended the conference held over the weekend of 6-8 July at Queens College, University of Melbourne.

The conference focused on the topic of ‘Defending Human Dignity’.
ACSA was not always a happy celebration of Australian Catholic Youth. ACSA in the 1990s was unorthodox and  near-moribund. Ten years ago, with the combined efforts of Cardinal George Pell, Father Greg Jordan, S.J. and many dedicated young Catholics, ACSA was reformed to become thoroughly orthodox and vibrant association that it now is.

The Australian Catholic Students Association (ACSA) has been appointed officially by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to represent Catholic tertiary students and young Alumni. Its Annual Conference is a highlight of the university year for Catholic tertiary students.
Each year the program for the ACSA conference includes Daily Mass, Confession and Adoration, lectures, robust discussion and time for socialising.

The Conference opened on the Friday afternoon with a Sung High Mass in the Extraordinary Latin Rite. Father Glenn Tattersall, of the Melbourne Latin Mass Chaplaincy, celebrated the Mass assisted by Peter Zielinski, a Seminarian at Vianney College, Wagga.

The Schola led by Fr. Terence Naughton, included Deacon Michael from the Seminary at Homebush (NSW), Martin Hartley, Anna Hitchings, Ronan Riley, David Chua and Caitlin Den Bakker.

During Friday evening, Fr. David Nugent of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist, a recently established Congregation in the Diocese of Frejus-Toulon in the south of France, led a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament. All-Night Adoration continued until Saturday Morning.

The speakers at this year’s conference included Professor Tracey Rowland who spoke about ‘Theology of Culture.’ Hon Kevin Andrews, M.P addressed the topic ‘The War against Human Dignity.’ Fr Aidan Nichols, O.P, gave the Keynote Address. Dr Matt Tan gave a speech entitled “Cyber culture and Human Dignity,” and Dr David van Gend, a Senior Lecturer in Palliative Medicine, was also a notable speaker. The Mannix Orator was given by journalist, Chris Pearson, of The Australian newspaper.

The traditional Saturday afternoon ‘State of Origin’ Rugby Challenge, won by combined Queensland and NSW team, “All Stars,” was a highlight.
The evening program which followed included the Conference Dinner, the Mannix Oration and the Ball.
Federal opposition Leader, Tony Abbot, was present at the annual MacKillop Ball held on the Saturday night, attended by almost 230 guests.

The ACSA Annual General Meeting was held on Sunday morning. Out-going President, Justin Gill, presented some introductory remarks before out-going Treasurer, Richard Lyons, reported ACSA to be in a ‘healthy financial situation’.

Life Membership was bestowed on two Past Presidents. Dr. Xavier O’Kane, Intensive Care Unit, Austin Hospital, and Camillus O’Kane, who has degrees in Law and Town Planning and is currently ‘doing his Articles’ at a firm in Echuca.

The elections for the ACSA Executive followed with Camillus elected Returning Officer. Former treasurer, Richard Lyons, was declared President. Richard is a former St Kevin’s student now studying for a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Politics and History at Melbourne University. He also works part-time at the Institute of Public Affairs.

Nick Smith (Sydney University) was elected Vice-President, David Chilnicean (Campion College) was elected Secretary, Tom Ryan (QLD) was elected Treasurer, Kieran Walton (NSW) was elected Media Officer, Lucy Righetti (VIC) was elected Publications Officer and Michelle Mannering (VIC) was elected IT Officer.
The NSW State Representative for the coming year is Jordan Granthan (Campion College) and the Victorian State Representative is Matt Pati (Latrobe University).

Four Dominican Sisters from Our Lady’s Convent, Ganmain (Wagga Diocese) Mary Martin, Mary Ephrem, Mary Clare and Mary Catherine as well as two Sisters from the Dominican Nuns of Nashville, Tennessee (Sydney Convent), Maria Kolbe and Loretta Park  attended the ACSA Conference. Father Paul Rowse, O.P. who is the Chaplain at Sydney University also attended.

ACSA Chaplain, Fr Greg Jordan, S.J. was the principal Celebrant at the final Mass held at the Corpus Christi seminary church, Sacred Heart, Carlton.

Tom Hill who is a student at Notre Dame University in Sydney and attended the ACSA conference in Melbourne summed up his ACSA experience saying, “We pray hard, we play hard and we party hard”.
With enthusiasm like this, no wonder ACSA 2012 was a great success!