By Anthony Barich
THE first class of the Catholic liberal arts university Campion College graduated on December 5 at the University of Sydney’s Great Hall.
Campion College, opened in 2006 as the first Liberal Arts college in Australia, covers humanities and sciences. Its 12 graduates, from New Zealand, the United States, NSW, Queensland and Victoria, did core subjects of history, literature, philosophy, theology and sciences including bioethics.
The college is growing exponentially, with the 12 graduating students to be replaced by up to 30 new ones – including its first enrolment from WA in 2009 – bringing the overall total to about 80. Four South Australians enrolled last year for the first time.
Campion College students undertake a three-year undergraduate Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts. The studies are pre-vocational as students are primarily formed in faith and reason before deciding on a career path or vocational program elsewhere.
Karl Schmude, co-founder of Campion College with Brisbane businessman James Power Snr, said the college’s specific purpose is to nurture leaders for society and the Church.
This is done within a Catholic spiritual, liturgical and intellectual culture to produce students who can write and speak persuasively as people of faith “so they can bring that faith to bear on the culture around them, in their own societies and internationally”.
Mr Schmude told The Record that the students’ education serves as a counter-cultural force to balance the post-modernism of secular universities.
“In these universities, once you separate faith from reason you end up with ‘unreason’ – the irrational. Reason divorced from faith is simply an instrument of knowledge; but you need faith to shape the overall vision of life,” he said. “So to prepare a student for any career students need to be immersed in the full riches of knowledge in a culture that requires faith as well as reason.”
In this light, Bishop Kevin Manning of Parramatta, whose diocese hosts the college, told those graduating that “fearlessness in the advocacy of human dignity, love, and proclamation of the mission of Christ” must underpin all their deeds from now on.
The bishop added that living the Beatitudes is more important than “being right”, even when amongst other Catholics.
“Humility is a virtue which well becomes a graduate in the Liberal Arts. This applies to Church matters as it does to all areas of life,” he said.
“Some Catholics persuade themselves that it is their mission to correct everybody else, other Catholics in particular: to develop a Church of those who are right, rather than a Church of mercy, forgiveness, compassion, justice and love.”
He said that as the graduates go out into the world, the Good News must be more than just informative, but “performative – producing a life-change in us”. “Is it a message which shapes our life in a new way. Have we the courage to grasp its promise and change our lives? How, asks Pope Benedict, is our Christian faith for us today a life-changing and life-sustaining hope?”
He also stressed the need for forgiveness, which is the cornerstone of any justice they may seek to achieve in their lives, professional or otherwise.
“Sometimes, in the religious context, you hear it said that there is a crisis of faith. That may be, but I think there is a crisis of forgiveness, the world over. Without justice, there is no peace and without forgiveness there is no justice; and with forgiveness comes reconciliation, joy and peace,” he said.
Speaking about “the primacy of love”, the bishop said that the challenge for the Church, and the graduates, is “to call men and women away from the self, and self-made ideologies, to the Other, the Transcendent, the God of Love, who fills us with love, and impels us to collaborate with others to make the Kingdom here on earth a kingdom of justice, love and peace”.
Here, The Record reveals what they will be pursuing next.
Tim Wallace, Madeleine Meese, Elanor Hitchings and Kate Bateman will all be undertaking post graduate study to become teachers.
Both Kate and Madeleine are from Melbourne will return home and fulfil their scholarship requirements from the Melbourne Catholic Education Office.
Madeleine will go to the University of Melbourne and Madeleine to ACU Melbourne and is keen to teach history and religion. Kate will be a Physical Education teacher.
Tim will be going into primary teaching at Charles Sturt University and Elanor will be going to the University of Sydney‘s teacher education program.
As a consequence of relationships built at Campion College through its United States partners, Conor Power is weighing up a number of options including an internship at a Washington DC political think tank.
Olivia Meese will be pursuing a career in medicine but will take a year off to travel to Europe.
Molly Healy is Camption College’s first graduate from the United States and she will return to Boston.
She does not yet have a career in mind but she now has the potential to pursue any career choice.
There are over 400 Liberal Arts colleges in the United States, where employers understand the value of a liberal arts education.
Steven Woodnut will return to his native New Zealand, where he will seek an internship with a political party.
His ultimate aim is to be a member of the New Zealand diplomatic corps.
Johanna O Farrell will enter post-graduate study in literature at the University of Melbourne where she will pursue a career possibly in academia. Kieran Jackson has applied for post-graduate law at the University of Notre Dame.
A Campion spokesan said that Professor Gerard Ryan, the Dean of Law at the University of Notre Dame Australia, believes that the Liberal Arts are a wonderful pre-cursor to a law studies and a law career.
Nicolai Martinovic will attend the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies in Melbourne where he will be taking post-graduate studies in bio-ethics.
Charbel Trad will be pursuing a career in investment banking and will apply for a Master of Finance at the University of Western Sydney.
For details on Campion College, email email@example.com, call 02 9896 9300 or log onto http://www.campion.edu.au on the internet.