ACU Staff Ministry team awarded for Mission Excellence

Campus Ministry Manager Brother Michael Callinan, and Campus Pastoral Associates Colleen Tracey, Tanya Kehoe, Greg Jeffery, Hannah Hladik, Ann O’Connor, Jeremy Ambrose and Dr Cristina Lledo Gomez, have been recognised for embracing a theology that welcomes and offers support to all, and is inclusive of differing faith beliefs or cultural backgrounds.

The team has created a variety of opportunities for staff to connect with each other socially and intellectually through events like Hopeful Research Dialogues and Encounter: Faith, Ecology and Peace, as well as through shared-interest groups like Stitches and Stories, Sunset and Seafood, ACU Book Club, Storytelling@ACU, and Wine and Art nights. The team also provides opportunities to explore faith through staff retreats, liturgy, prayer and meditation, the Thinking Faith group and the Forty Day Fast.

Greg says many activities are designed to be accessible during the busy workday, for example during morning/afternoon tea and lunchtime.

“We also want to help staff embrace what living the mission looks like in their work,” he adds.

Laughter, creativity and a listening ear

Laughter is a hallmark of the team, Brother Michael says, and their collaborative approach encourages the sharing of individual creativity and ideas between team members via a feedback loop.

“It’s not about working for ourselves – it’s about working as a collective, creative team and working for the common good,” he says.

Meanwhile, Hannah says the framework that inspires the team and guides all of its work is: Belong, Become, Believe, and Be Supported.

“When we’re sharing ideas, we are always looking at ‘Which category does this support?’ So an event doesn’t need to be prayer or liturgy, important as these are; it could simply be about helping staff to connect and belong,” she says.

Colleen says she most enjoys helping staff feel like they are valued members of the ACU family. 

“I love when [staff have] shared that being supported, and having us walk them on their journey in whatever form that takes – sometimes it’s a personal journey, and other times it’s through their work – has helped them feel like they have a place at ACU and that they belong to the community,” she says.

Greg adds that the team is inspired by Pope Francis’ message to be the “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep”.

“We get out there amongst it, and our strength is in knowing the people on our local campus, so we can build strong relationships,” he says.

According to Ann, the team receives wonderful leadership support from Brother Michael, Mark Lysaght and Father Anthony Casamento: “We simply couldn’t do the work we do without them.”

“I love helping staff to see the impact they make for our students, how they are living the mission in their campus community and bearing witness to human dignity in the wider world.”

Getting through the pandemic together

The Campus Ministry team was particularly aware of the extra support needs of staff when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, bringing lockdowns and changed arrangements to campuses.

Understanding that the need to belong is at the core of the human condition is what inspired the team to be agile in how they could continue to foster connection among staff, Cristina says.

“There are so many difficulties out there in the world, and what Campus Ministry brings is a place to feel safe, a place where [staff] can connect with others and feel part of a community,” she says.

The team rapidly developed innovative offerings including a virtual national morning tea, online prayer and meditation, online film and book clubs, and published recordings and live Zoom broadcasts on Workplace.

For Jeremy, the second lockdown in Melbourne spurred him to take on the ambitious task of contacting every staff member from the Melbourne campus.

“I was wanting to get a personal message to each person, to make sure that no-one slipped through the cracks, that they all knew that they were cared for,” he says. “I’m reaching out to offer support, whether it’s connecting for a virtual coffee or a phone chat. I still have many hundreds of people to engage with!”

In looking to the future, Tanya loves that the word ‘hope’ keeps coming up within the staff community and to see that people are so willing to help those less fortunate.

“We have amazing staff at ACU, and they were so ready to respond with practical care when needs arose during COVID-19,” she says.

“I’ve loved hearing that they’ve felt encouraged to personally express the university’s Catholic identity and support our graduates to leave ACU as fully formed people, and be those images of Christ and beacons of hope in the world. To have our work acknowledged with this award… we’re really just so thankful and humbled by that.”


Brother Michael_360x360

Brother Michael Callinan FMS

Colleen Tracey_360x360

Colleen Tracey


Cristina Gomez

Greg Jeffery_360x360

Greg Jeffery


Hannah Hladik

Jeremy Ambrose 360x360

Jeremy Ambrose

Tanya Kehoe_360x360

Tanya Kehoe

AnnOConnor 360x360

Ann O’Connor

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