Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has appointed Schoenstatt Sister Isabell Naumann ISSM as the President of the Catholic Institute of Sydney, a key role in the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Church in Australia.
Sister Naumann’s appointment is also significant as she becomes the first woman to hold the position of President of the Institute, established in 1954; she is its ninth president. She will take up her appointment on 26 February, the commencement of the academic year.
The appointment is a key role in the Church in Australia because the CIS is the only ecclesiastical educational faculty in the country. As such, it is officially established under the auspices of the Holy See and the only educational institution which can offer ecclesiastical (sometimes called ‘Roman’) degrees.
The President’s appointment (made by the Chancellor, Archbishop Fisher) must also be approved by the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome. Although laity do – and have – studied at CIS, it is primarily responsible for the theological and philosophical education of seminarians, the future priests of the Archdiocese. However seminarians from religious orders or seminaries such as the Neocatechumenal Way Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Chester Hill also undertake their theological and philosophical studies at the Institute.
A total of 163 students were enrolled at the Institute in 2017. Sister Isabell, a specialist in Mariology, has taught at CIS since 2005, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in Systematic Theology, particularly in the area of ecclesiology. She was also the Dean of Studies at the archdiocesan Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush. However Sister Naumann is not only a highly-regarded academic on the Australian Catholic scene; she is also a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture in Rome, having been first appointed to the Council by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 and reappointed by Pope Francis in 2014.
She takes over the President’s role from Dr Gerard Kelly, a priest of the Archdiocese, who served as CIS’s President from 2004 and who teaches Systematic Theology at the Institute. The degrees offered by the Institute include the STB (a Baccalaureate of Theology), the STL (a Licentiate in Sacred Theology, equivalent to a Master’s degree at a secular university) and the STD (a Doctorate in Sacred Theology).
Archbishop Fisher also announced the appointment of Dr Rohan Curnow as Deputy President. Dr Curnow, who has lectured at CIS since 2010, will also maintain his current role as Academic Dean.