Thomas Cullen wins postgraduate scholarship

The ACU Centre for Liturgy Postgraduate Scholarship for 2020 has been awarded to ACU Faculty of Theology and Philosophy master's student Thomas Cullen.

On awarding the prestigious scholarship to Mr Cullen, ACU Centre for Liturgy Director, Professor Clare Johnson said, “Tom is an excellent student who has demonstrated a keen interest in the study of liturgy and sacramental theology."  

“His studies in ACU’s Graduate Diploma in Theological Studies (Liturgy) have given him a solid grounding from which to undertake further master's-level studies in the history, theology and practice of liturgy. The ACU Centre for Liturgy is delighted to support Tom’s ongoing learning with this scholarship. He is exactly the sort of student we are keen to encourage.”

Mr Cullen grew up in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and attended St Aidan's Catholic Primary School Maroubra. His liturgical formation began as a chorister at St Mary’s Cathedral Choir in Sydney from 1974 – 1981, where he gained an awareness of the power of the liturgy to build relationship with God and God’s Church. 

He then joined the parish of Saints Peter and Paul in Kiama, NSW from 2003 to 2005 where he was involved in youth and music ministry, as a cantor, and in sacramental and spirituality programs. He discovered that he could help people of all ages, “respond to God’s invitation by using their gifts and talents in each liturgical celebration".

“Being part of such a faith-filled parish community had a deep impact on me,” Mr Cullen said. He is particularly interested in facilitating liturgical participation for all people, including those experiencing a disability.

“People who are affected by a disability do not readily come forward and need support and encouragement to actively participate by offering their gifts. Removing the barriers to full liturgical participation for all is a goal worth pursuing.”

Mr Cullen moved to Brisbane where he was a chorister at St Stephens from 2015-2018. The Choir Director Ralph Morton passed away during that period. He said that it was a difficult time, as he was the lead tenor of the choir during that period, and he assisted Ralph on liturgical issues when needed.

Mr Cullen is grateful to receive the scholarship, noting, “This opportunity enables me to continue to deepen my understanding of the liturgical and sacramental life of our Church. I am learning how the whole of Christian life is meant to be permeated and marked by the liturgy and the sacraments.” 

Mr Cullen hopes to work as a Pastoral/Liturgical Coordinator in a parish when his studies are complete. “It is through doing our rituals well that we tell the story of how intimately we are united with God and are aided to be receptive to God’s salvific gift and abundant grace in our lives.”

The ACU Centre for Liturgy supports, promotes, and enhances the liturgical life of the Catholic Church through tertiary education, research, scholarship and pastoral formation. Through ACU’s Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, the Centre and ACU’s Directorate of Identity and Mission, the Centre offers liturgical education programs from parish-level pastoral formation through to tertiary programs and higher degree research, advancing the liturgical apostolate in Australia and beyond.

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