While not giving any details, a pooling of resources between Campion College and the Ramsay Institute of Western Civilisation would occur in the future, former Prime Minister John Howard told students, staff and friends of the college last Thursday.
Mr Howard, who is Chairman of the Institute, was attending the opening and blessing of two residential halls for Campion students, one named after legendary Australian Jesuit Fr Gregory Jordan SJ who passed away in 2015.
The second hall is yet to be named.
Campion College opened in 2006 as Australia’s first Liberal Arts College, while Fr Jordan was a champion of culture and civilisation as foundation stones of tertiary education.
The Ramsay Institute aims to advance tertiary education through the promotion of units in the study of Western Civilisation with grants to Universities willing to become involced in that project.
Mr Howard, a keen supporter of Campion and its Liberal Arts program, clearly anticipated a positive outcome from the alliance.
“I admire Campion for its stoicism, faith and commitment on keeping alive the understanding of where we came from and what we stand for in the study of Western Civilisation,” he told the gathering which also included Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP.
“Campion exists in very challenging times [but] as I mentioned a moment ago the goals of Campion and the goals of the Ramsey Centre of Western Civilisation have much in common. And we look forward to a pooling of common resources in the future.”
The events of the day began with the opening and blessing of the two halls, built under the direction of American architect Art Lohsen.
The halls are a first in a series of planned upgrades that indicate a healthy future for the growing College.
Campion President Paul Morrissey said the opening of the halls was only the first step in the ongoing growth of his College.
“These residential houses are a crucial stage in the future of our campus. The plan will include more residential houses as well as a library, dining hall, gym, and a new chapel,” he said.
“This is an auspicious day not only for the future of the college but also for higher education in Australia and the history,” Dr Morrissey told the audience which included Parramatta Lord Mayor Andrew Wilson and longtime trade union official Joe de Bruyn, a former National President of the ALP.
While the Ramsay Institute promotes the study of western civilisation in mainstream higher institutes, its approaches to some, such as ANU, have been met with stiff resistance and ultimately rejected on the grounds that its programme does not conform to ideologies of political correctness.
However synergies undoubtedly exist between the Institute and Campion; for Campion, which specifically explores the study of Western humanities, the mission of the Institute is welcome.
Greg Sheridan, foreign editor for The Australian and an admirer of Campion has written in his most recent book, God is Good For You: A Defence of Christianity in Troubled Times. that: “If our civilisation has a real future in Australia it will be connected to Campion. For Campion has done something that no other institution of higher learning has attempted in Australia. It has dedicated itself to immersing its students in the great tradition, based on the great books, of Western Civilisation.”
To date, the Ramsay Institute is the largest philanthropic giver in the history of Australian education with, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, up to $3 billion bequeathed by the late health care magnate Paul Ramsay.
Archbishop Fisher urged students not to waste their time hopping from one fashionable ideology to another but to take full advantage of the knowledge and wisdom on offer through their studies.
“Campion College seeks to provide a staged banquet of knowledge and wisdom from within the household of Christ. It demonstrates how literature, history, philosophy, theology, the classics, music and technology can be joined in service of high human and spiritual goals,” Archbishop Fisher told students.
“When we meet the graduates of the College it is even more evident that immersing them in a long and valuable tradition of learning frees their minds and expand their hearts to take to the world knowledge and skills, talents and wisdom, nurtured in this unique environment.”
Archbishop Fisher also paid tribute to the priest for whom one of the halls was named, who had also been his first headmaster when he studied at St Ignatius College, Riverview and a lifelong friend from then on.
“It is a privilege to be invited today to bless and open the two new residential buildings of Campion College, including one named for Father Greg Jordan SJ.
“A great fighter of the faith, he did not move from house to house, but instead stood undeflected by the ideological fashions of modernity. A great fan of the Christian humanist project of uniting the arts and sciences with faith and reason, he was a great friend to this College.”
For more information about Campion College visit www.campion.edu.au