• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Wednesday, 17 April 2013 11:57

Yarra Theological Union celebrates 40 years



Fr-Jacob-JPEGLocated on the top of panoramic southern Box Hill, in the vicinity of the disused quarry, is the Yarra Theological Union, affectionately called the YTU. It is a College of the recently constituted MCD University of Divinity, the only specialised university of its sort set up by the Victorian Parliament, in December 2011.

This year YTU reaches the 40th year of its service. The very site of the college, overlooking the serene Box Hill archery club and the St Vincent aged care home, speaks of the focus of the College on research and scholarship flowing into service to Australian society.   

What should be of interest to us is that YTU shares in many of the contrasts of the Australian society. Though established in 1973 by a group of the leading Catholic religious Orders, for the theological formation of their candidates, right from its inception the College opened its doors not only to ministerial candidates but also to the ordinary lay folk, both from the Catholic fold as well as from the folds of other churches, both men and women.

Within ten years of its existence, the College could boast of having a woman as its dean, the late, Sr Joan Novotny IBVM, the first woman dean of any Catholic Theological Faculty. The College spells out the genuine catholic spirit without borders, radiating the spirit of the universal family of human beings, biblically described as the Kingdom of God, the central message of Jesus Christ.

Linked to this spirit of universalism is the gracious hospitality that permeates every department and activity of the College, whether in the Dean’s office, the library or the spacious common room cafeteria. Speaking about the Dean, the current incumbent of this Catholic College is Rev Dr Ross Fishburn, an Anglican minister, and a former dean of the then Melbourne College of Divinity, that became the MCD University of Divinity.

The College hospitality spreads also into the types of courses that are offered at the College, including courses on other religions and understanding among the religious traditions of Australia. The ever bourgeoning student body, currently numbering over 350, hails from different ethnic backgrounds, reflecting modern Melbourne, and the variety of peoples in it. 

The Divine Word Missionaries joined the College consortium in the late 1970s adding a fresh dimension to the YTU identity, through the Society’s missionary service. Since its coming to YTU, the SVDs have volunteered to take care of the missionary and cross cultural aspect of the theological education by providing the lecturers as well as the books required.


The extroverted character of the College can be gauged through its involvement in various community services such as the Exodus Community at Heidelberg that is known for its hospitality to the aged, homeless, immigrants and the lonely. The social concern of the College has prompted it to open a special Department on Social Policies that is doing a great service to the public, mainly through its awareness-building programs.

The practical bent of the College in no way has compromised its academic excellence as demanded of the Australian Universities. However, its theological involvement is an engagement with God’s world in a prophetic manner. The College community is pained by the vast inequalities between peoples, the ongoing dehumanisation of others by some, the environmental degradation as well as the continuing wars and the foisting of political democracy without social and cultural democracy. These and similar themes are integral to the theological discussions of this academic body.


Anchored in the faith in the goodness and unfailing hospitality of the divine, the College is ever faithful to its stewardship of the divine, untiringly adding tantalising perspectives of the divine dimension to our times, a necessary service demanded of any theological Institute. YTU is conscious of its call to collaborate in the shared re-appropriation of the divine, in no way fanatic or fundamentalistic, but in the weakness of wonder and the sense of Mystery that made Moses cry out at the burning bush: “I must turn aside and see what this great sight is!” The staff and students, as one body, are dedicated in their effort to recognise the divine as it is manifested in our secular society where more and more people tend to describe themselves as “nones.’’

The rejection of repression and totalitarianism by the Australian society is a positive sign of the divine prevailing in our culture. YTU perceives the openness of the divine in such signs as the ever increasing interest to volunteer in soup kitchens and Vinnie’s canteens. This makes YTU a theological college with a difference and a vision, ever responsive to the signs of the times.

In the 40 years of its existence there has been a constant search to be faithful to the call of the Lord to be salt and light to the society and this is something to be celebrated and shared with fellow Australians.

Fr Jacob is an Associate Professor, YTU/MCD University