Deepening engagement with the Catholic Church

In 2020, ACU commissioned a Church Listening Project to help better inform the university’s foundational strategic priority that 'all endeavours be grounded in mission'. 

As a Catholic University governed by the norms of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, ACU is part of the wider mission of the Church. This means it is called to support the Church through its research, its academic endeavours, and its engagement in the public square.

The first phase of the project was carried out in late 2020 by the Office of the Vice President. For this project, 59 interviews were conducted with 90 people to understand the perceptions and any misconceptions held by Church entities about ACU, and to discover opportunities for collaboration and service. Participants included Bishops, clergy, Seminary rectors, and a broad cross section of leaders from Church agencies across Australia.

Most participants observed that ACU has grown in its reputation and Catholic identity in recent years and were very confident that our new Vice-Chancellor would build on this legacy. They observed that ACU’s growth in its identity as a Catholic university was evident in a range of activities, including the development of the La Salle Academy, the PM Glynn Institute, our presence in Rome, and the growth of Campus Ministry and ACU Engagement.

Participants also challenged ACU to deepen its Catholic identity, improve its engagement and communication with Church stakeholders, and focus on building intentional relationships with those engaged in key Church agencies.

A broad range of ideas for collaboration and service were suggested:

  • the development of formation programs in Catholic mission and identity
  • leadership and governance formation for heads of Church agencies, clergy and lay leaders
  • investment in specifically Catholic areas of research (such as bioethics)
  • ongoing promotion of Catholic ideas in the public square
  • deepening the existing support of Catholic schools, especially in regional dioceses
  • the promotion of the arts.

It was clear that those interviewed deeply valued the presence and contribution of ACU to the life and mission of the Church in Australia. Many desire to build upon and deepen their relationship with ACU and continue their collaboration in a broad range of areas. To this end, they encouraged ACU to invest in its own identity as a Catholic university so that it can be a stronger partner in our shared mission.

If you would like to know more about the Church Listening Project, please contact Robert Tonkli in the Office of the Vice President.  


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