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Public lecture to define distinctive role of Catholic university

In a move to articulate its place in Australian society, the Australian Catholic University (ACU) has invited the Chancellor of a leading US Catholic university to spell out how such an institution can "make a difference".

Professor James Heft SM of the University of Dayton in Ohio will deliver a free public lecture at ACU's North Sydney campus tomorrow evening at 7:30.

"There are a multitude of challenges that affect a Catholic university in the world today," said ACU National Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Sheehan. "A contemporary Catholic university should be a place where faith and intellect meet in the growth of human potential."

"ACU National is Australia's only public and Catholic university. I believe being public and being Catholic at one and the same time is uniquely suited to the contemporary challenges of higher education. In a world of mass consumerism, people want to be empowered and a public Catholic University can genuinely make a difference," said Professor Sheehan.

In his address, Heft will present an historical overview of Catholic colleges and universities in the USA before concentrating on five major challenges he has identified that Catholic univeristies face in the 21st century.

Professor Heft, a priest of the Marianist Order, is Founding Director of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California. He is in Australia to participate in a series of lectures and colloquia with ACU National staff and the Australian community.

Meanwhile at the weekend, Pope John Paul II told participants of a Rome symposium on university studies that the "synthesis between theological and philosophical knowledge and the other sciences" is vital for the future of Europe.

The said that "although the university must be well inserted into the social and economic fabric, it cannot be servile to their needs, or the price will be the loss of its own nature, which is mainly cultural."

Australian Catholic University/Catholic World News

Australian Catholic University
Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies
University of Dayton Department of Religious Studies | James L. Heft, SM

22 Jul 2003