Australian Catholic University and Sydney Catholic Schools have joined forces to send 21 high-achieving school leavers on a three-week immersion experience, exploring the foundations of Western civilisation in Rome and London next month.
The pilot School Leavers Program, running from 10 November to 3 December, will see students visiting many of the places pivotal in the history of Western civilisation such as the Roman Forum, the Catacombs, the Vatican, Oxford University and London’s Houses of Parliament.
While in the Eternal City the students will stay at ACU’s Rome campus.
“Our mission as a Catholic university is to engage in the Catholic intellectual tradition, where faith and reason are in dialogue—and this program gives you the opportunity to do just that, while being in the unique classroom of the cities of Rome and London,” Fr Anthony Casamento csma, ACU Vice President, told the 21 students.
“Our hope is that by understanding how powerfully Christianity, politics and culture have shaped both the Western world and today’s diverse, complex, and secular society, this learning experience will inform the development of your own journey of leadership and service in your post-school years.”
All Year 12 students at Sydney’s Catholic schools who either won or were nominated for the Archbishop’s Awards for Excellence this year were invited to apply to take part in the School Leavers Program. Ninety applications were received.
Students were then selected based on their academic excellence and their potential for leadership and community service in the Church and wider community.
Not only will participants visit famous historical and cultural sites, they will also have daily reading sessions and lectures on the people, institutions and events that shaped the Western world. Anthony Cleary, Director of Religious Education and Evangelisation for Sydney Catholic Schools, said it was vital for school leavers to have a firm grasp of the history of Western civilisation and the role of Christianity in its foundation before they embark on a university degree.
“It’s paramount. You can’t appreciate and value something unless you know it,” Mr Cleary told The Catholic Weekly. “This is about giving young people the opportunity to immerse themselves in the riches of Western civilisation and the Catholic Church.”
At a recent information session for the students and their parents, Mr Cleary warned that the experience may change the participant’s way of thinking.
“This experience may re-shape your thinking on what you want to do for the rest of your life,” he told them.
The students were “highly excited” about the trip, Mr Cleary said, and their excitement was only surpassed by that of their parents, who said they would gladly “swap places” with their children.