MY great-great-grandfather was a wheelwright, his son was a wool mill worker, his son was a cook, my father was a journalist and I became the Vice-Chancellor of Australian Catholic University (ACU).
Why is it that I am now a professor of law and a vice-chancellor, when my Irish immigrant, Gaelic-speaking great-great-grandfather could not read or write?
The answer is through the transforming power of a Catholic education my family was afforded. And this education came through the great religious orders of the Catholic Church – those astonishing orders like the Christian Brothers, like the Marists, like the Presentation nuns and like the Mercy nuns.
Those orders and the Church not only shifted individuals but entire social classes from one level of participation in society to another level in a way that political parties can only dream of.
Were it not for the Christian Brothers (and the Christian Brothers taught every generation of my family since we came to Australia), I would be digging a road somewhere outside Geelong.
Catholic schools and Catholic universities today are committed to having a positive impact for families and communities.
ACU is committed to fundamentally changing the lives of our students and allowing them to fulfil their dreams and aspirations.
We use best-practice teaching and learning methods to ensure our students are given the best opportunity available. And we educate more teachers than any other university in Australia.
Education is the lifeblood of our university and the quality of our graduates keeps getting better.
ACU’s distinctive concern for excellence in teaching, social justice and equity is at the heart of our commitment to developing high-quality graduates who are capable of making a difference locally, nationally and internationally.
Education professionals can rely on ACU to advance knowledge and expertise in education through degree programs that are student-centric, flexibly delivered and evidence-based.
The university offers a range of diverse programs across the early-childhood, primary and secondary sectors – including special education, religious education, inclusive education and disability studies, and leadership development.
Our programs are regularly reviewed to ensure they meet the contemporary needs of professional educators in Australia and overseas. Our strong industry links mean all our programs are designed and accredited in collaboration with industry experts – including representatives from Catholic education, the government sector, international partners and independent schools.
We offer specialised programs that accredit teachers for Catholic schools and Catholic leadership.
I would especially like to highlight the La Salle Academy for Faith Formation and Religious Education, which aims to develop and deliver quality teaching and research programs in realising the aspirations of the New Evangelisation.
The La Salle Academy was established in response to the passionate desire of Catholic education authorities to ensure that teachers and leaders of Catholic schools were well informed for the critical task of realising the aspirations of the New Evangelisation, which calls upon us to deepen our faith, belief in the Gospel message and to go forth to proclaim it.
The academy is committed to preparing teachers and leaders of faith formation and religious education in a way that extends their competency and efficacy, expands their theological literacy, and equips them with a new set of skills so they can help the Church find doorways through which contemporary Australians can enter and bring faith and life into dialogue.
As a Catholic university, ACU engages in the Catholic intellectual tradition where faith and reason are compatible in education, and knowledge is cultivated in an environment that fosters intellectual freedom, personal development and equity for all.
ACU’S Catholic identity is animated through a campus-wide commitment to serving others, developing an active learning community and fostering a just society.
By Greg Craven
Professor Greg Craven is the vice-chancellor of Australian Catholic University.