Prime Minister Joins Academics, Students & Clerics for ACU's 25th Anniversary Mass

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
31 Jul 2015

ACU Vice Chancellor Professor Greg Craven

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was among the distinguished guests at the Australian Catholic University's 25th Anniversary Mass which was held at St Mary's Cathedral earlier this week.

Among other eminent Australians who attended the Mass was John Dawkins AO, former Federal Minister of Education in the Hawke Government whose reforms to tertiary education in the late 1980s and early 1990s helped lead to the founding for Australia's first public Catholic university.

"Our University began on 1 January 1991. We had one professor, one Vice Chancellor, three Faculties and 5000 students spread across eight campuses in four states. On 23 April 1992 we were formally inaugurated," ACU Vice Chancellor, Professor Greg Craven said in his address to mark the quarter of a century since ACU was founded at the dinner after the Mass.

"The early founders of the University must contemplate its present reality with astonishment and hopefully pride," he said.

With more than 32,000 students from 90 different countries and seven campuses in Adelaide, Ballarat, Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, North Sydney and Strathfield, as well as the University's soon-to-be-opened Study Centre in Rome, ACU is not only one of the nation's fastest growing universities but one that has already earned an international reputation.

"Twenty five years is a long time and we have grown quickly," Professor Craven said, and traced the University's beginnings as a trainer of teachers and nurses for the nation's Catholic schools and hospitals, to the wide range of courses available to students today which encompass Health Sciences, Education and Arts, Theology and Philosophy and Law and Business.

"Our University has a long proud history of empowering our students to think critically, ethically and to contribute substantively to the good of society. It was no coincidence ACU is the largest producer of teachers and nurses - educators and healers - in Australia," he said.

Quoting Cardinal Edward Clancy, the founding Chancellor of ACU, the Vice Chancellor reiterated the purpose of a Catholic university, which he said was to: "Bring Catholic convictions and principles into the university arena to subject them to the public and searching analysis of scholars of every academic and ideological background. A Catholic university enables the Catholic point of view to enter fully, publicly and equally into the great debates of our time."

Concelebrating Bishops listen to Chancellor John Fahey's AC address

Chancellor of ACU, John Fahey AC, the former Premier of NSW and former Federal Minister of Finance in the Howard Government, welcomed the Prime Minister and distinguished guests as they arrived at the Cathedral where more than 400 professors, academics, students, former students from ACU along with business and political leaders had gathered for the University's 25th Anniversary Mass.

Celebrated by the President of Australian Catholic University Ltd, the Most Rev Denis Hart, Archbishop of Melbourne, the concelebrants included the Most Rev Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane; the Most Rev Peter Comensoli, Bishop of Broken Bay; Bishop Terry Brady, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney; the Rev Dr Gerry Gleeson, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Sydney; Rev Professor Gerard Kelly, President the Catholic Institute of Sydney; Monsignor William Mullins, Process Instructor with the Archdiocese of Sydney; Father Kelvin Lovegrove, Episcopal Vicar for Clergy, Archdiocese of Sydney; Father Anthony Bernard, ACU Chaplain and Parish Priest of Camperdown; Fr Anthony Casamento CSMA, Director of Identity and Mission at ACU; Fr Peter Williams, Diocesan Administrator of Parramatta.

One of the highlights of the evening was the "ACU Anniversary Mass," a setting heard for the first time at the Mass. Composed by Roger Hillman from the University's Ballarat Campus, the Mass was performed and sung by the combined ACU Student Choir.

Another highlight for many of those there was the procession into the Cathedral which was led by led by Kathryn Blyth, Academic Registrar and ACU Director of Student Administration who carried the University's new superbly hand-crafted ceremonial Mace.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott (right) at the ACU 25th Anniversary Mass stands beside AC Chancellor John Fahey AC (centre) and Vice Chancellor Greg Craven (left)

Australia's oldest traditional silversmiths, WJ Saunders & Co were commissioned by ACU to create the sterling silver Mace which features ornate floral designs in high detail relief representing ACU's three foundation states and the ACT.  Two panels in coloured enamels on each side of the Mace depict the University's crest and University Cross, with the University motto: "Truth in Love" etched into the Mace's sterling silver lid.

ACU has only just taken delivery of the Mace which was blessed by Father Casamento on Friday last week at a Senate Mass held at ACU's Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel, North Sydney.

A symbol of Authority of the Chancellor and the Senate, the Mace will be carried ahead of the Chancellor at all future graduation ceremonies and be part of all future meetings of the Senate.

When not in use, the Mace will be displayed in the Apostolic Delegation Room in the Vice-Chancellery building at ACU's North Sydney campus.