The College the Fellowship Built
The founding in 1972 of a lay movement here in Australia named in honour of Pope St John XXIII may be readily seen as a fruit of the Second Vatican Council.
The John XXIII Fellowship was without doubt a response to the Council’s call for renewal and the fresh emphasis it gave to the role of the laity. But it was also a new expression of an Australian Catholic tradition.
These native roots may have been overlooked as the Fellowship combined two elements regarded as uncommon in the Australian Church. It was a lay initiative which took place in the intellectual and educational sphere.
The most significant flowering of this tradition was in the early 1930s when the Campion Society was founded in Melbourne and then spread rapidly throughout Australia.
The Fellowship did not launch or sponsor Campion, but it provided a sustained setting for its formation.
Among like minds, the purpose and value of a Catholic liberal arts college in Australia could be rehearsed, and its animating ideas tested and refined.
The importance of these long years of preparation became clear by the time Campion was founded in 2006, a task I undertook for five years with James Power Senior, a businessman and friend who was also a member of the Fellowship.
In 1987, the John XXIII Fellowship recognised its Australian Catholic roots more explicitly by being renamed the Campion Fellowship.
Campion College honours the heritage of the Fellowship – and, at an earlier stage, the Campion Society. It stands as a reminder of their seminal influence and abiding inspiration.
Image courtesy of Karl Schmude.