A new wave of Catholic university students learnt that serious formation and enjoying themselves need not be mutually exclusive, at the Australian Catholic Students Association 2016 Conference, which took place at the Benedict XVI Retreat Centre in Grose Vale last month.
The 24-26 June event was the first for many years without the association’s long-time chaplain and mentor, Fr Greg Jordan SJ, who died on 19 July, 2015.
But the conference was no less vibrant than his legacy would suggest, attracting scores of students from around Australia, including 150 people to its pinnacle event, the annual Mannix Ball.
The 2016 Mannix Address was given by Damien Tudehope, the Liberal MLA for Epping, who spoke on the topic of Religious Liberty in Contemporary Australian society.
Mr Tudehope compared the current situation of the Church with that of the Church at the time of the long-serving firebrand archbishop of Melbourne, Archbishop Daniel Mannix (1917-63), stressing the importance of renewing the education and participation of lay people.
Other speakers throughout the conference included ex-London gangster John Pridmore, Fr Greg Morgan, Robert Tilley, Anna Krohn, Peter Holmes, Owen Vyner and Sr Mary Helen OP.
The Students Association president, Damian Wilks, said he was edified by the large number of new faces at the conference; people who had not met Fr Jordan, but who were nonetheless benefiting from the effects of his ministry.