University launches a divine research partnership

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

Australian Catholic University (ACU) will partner with the Australian Province of the Society of Jesus to launch a new national research institute in Melbourne.

ACU Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Zlatko Skrbis and Provincial of the Australian Jesuits Fr Quyen Vu SJ will officially launch the partnership between The Loyola Institute and ACU on 21 February.

The launch will make ACU Melbourne the official home of The Loyola Institute – established by the Australian Jesuits in 2021 to promote the research and advocacy of Jesuit scholars in both locally and internationally.

The Australian Jesuits join a growing list of religious orders that make up ACU’s history, including the De La Salle Brothers, the Dominican Sisters, the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of St Joseph, the Christian Brothers, the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, and the Marist Brothers.

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Founded in 1540 by St Ignatius Loyola, Jesuits have ministered in Australia since 1848 – chiefly in the fields of secondary and tertiary education.

Collaborative projects connect academics with spiritual scholars

The Institute brings together ACU experts in various sectors of the university with Australian and international Jesuit scholars, with a collective aim to work on collaborative research projects that align with what the Society describes as its apostolic priorities.

The new partnership is an expansion of a formal agreement between ACU’s Faculty of Theology and Philosophy and the Australian Jesuits to deliver Ignatian Spirituality and Ministry Supervision postgraduate courses that were previously offered by the (now-closed) Jesuit College of Spirituality.

Advocacy, education and comparative theology

“The Loyola Institute was established to encourage collaboration among Jesuit scholars and our colleagues in Australia as well as with broad international networks. An institutional partner like ACU is essential to such a project, and almost all of our scholars will be working in an honorary capacity,” says Chair of The Loyola Institute, Reverend Professor Daniel Madigan SJ.

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Father Madigan says the Institute’s priorities include “research and advocacy include several areas that are also important to ACU’s teaching and research: for example, the Church and human rights (including questions of indigenous rights, disability, refugee policy, social services, ethics and public policy); contemporary Catholic theologies in this ‘change of epoch,’ as Pope Francis calls it; comparative theology and interreligious engagement; mission formation for Catholic institutional leadership; and the search for adequate responses to the profound questions raised for the Church by the clerical abuse crisis”.

“We look forward to exploring these themes with our research collaborators at ACU,” he says.

Supporting a long history

Executive Dean of ACU’s Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Associate Professor Richard Colledge, said the university was privileged to host a research institute in support of the Australian Jesuits.

“The Australian Jesuits are a mainstay of Australian Christian life, specifically in their contribution to the intellectual and spiritual fabric of our nation,” Associate Professor Colledge says.

“Our new partnership with the Australian Jesuits will foster unique connections with the Order’s global network of scholars and strengthen the research capacity of both institutions. We look forward to partnering with the Australian Jesuits in strengthening our mission.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]