Campion a ‘pearl in the desert’ says Cardinal
Cardinal George Pell described Campion College as a “pearl” in the educational desert of Australia in a speech at Campion’s Capital Appeal fundraiser on Wednesday.
The keynote address, given at Parliament House in Sydney, gave a frank assessment of the political, cultural and educational landscape in the country, concluding that we live in a fraying society.
“The brutal forces driving evolution, the law of the jungle, the economic and intellectual inequalities among humans, the differences between the strong and the weak, the sick and the healthy, all fly in the face of any claims of universal human dignity,” Cardinal Pell said.
“Already a significant section explicitly endorses tribalism, revenge, raw power and domination rather than any movement to consensus; in a hostile post-Christian Australia sustaining the liberalism ideal might be as difficult as planting democracy in Iraq or Afghanistan.”
The former Archbishop of Sydney said there was still hope, however, and that he did not believe “that the field has been lost”.
“We hope and work for peace, but if the worst was to happen … present high levels of rhetoric would then be of absolutely no use. Deeds are needed, not words.”
He described Campion as a “bright example” of positive change against the loss of cultural stability in Australia, which has negatively affected education, in particular:
“Campion studies history through Christian spectacles, evaluating the right and wrong, the good and evil, rejects any notion of a whitewash and works to diminish prejudice. But it inculcates a love and pride in our tradition, just as we love our families while recognising their failures,” he said.
“Students are introduced to the wisdom of the ages through our tradition, the Western tradition. They learn of the central virtues, about faith and reason, about the search for meaning.
“Because this education is good for individuals, it follows that it is good for society. Much of what Campion College now strives to do was done 100 or even 50 years ago for the elite and the battlers by family, school, church, university and even much of the media. No longer.”
The Cardinal concluded, “Campion has joined the fray and is contributing steadily. It is a pearl in the desert. I congratulate the College’s founders, for their vision and perseverance as I commend the work of (President) Dr Paul Morrissey and his staff and students.”
Cardinal Pell’s remarks were echoed by Campion student Ashleigh Mills, in her third and final year of the undergraduate degree, who said “Campion fosters an environment of deeply thoughtful people. It’s a place where lots of questions are encouraged, and students don’t feel like they have to ‘toe the line’ on a certain ideology in order to be heard”.
“Campion has encouraged me to see education not simply as a ticket to a job, but as a foundation for growth in my whole person, encompassing both knowledge and virtue as well as practical skills that together form a more mature and well-rounded “habit of mind” which lasts through life, to quote John Henry Newman,” Ashleigh said.
Guests also heard from Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher, former Prime Minister John Howard and founding Director of Campion, James Power, with the event hosted by journalist Jo Hayes as Master of Ceremonies.
Campion graduates Emelina Phillips and Bethany Marsh entertained guests with a moving performance of Italian art song “Amarilli Mia Bella” and "She Never Told Her Love" by Joseph Haydn.
The night ended with a final vote of thanks from Dr Paul Morrissey.
The fundraiser was held in aid of Campion’s Capital Appeal Campaign, to build a new academic wing to cater for more students, including a library, lecture theatre, classrooms, study spaces and an underground carpark, as well as four additional residential houses.
$13.5 million has already been raised towards the $18.5 million project, thanks to private donors and grants from the Federal and NSW Governments.
To learn more about the Capital Appeal Campaign and continue supporting this great cause, click here.
Photos courtesy of Giovanni Portelli Photography