Last Friday we finally launched an initiative that has been over a year in the planning: The Xavier Centre for Theological Formation.

It is a faculty initiative – and thank God for that – born of all the work many of us find ourselves called to do, alongside, (above and beyond?) the everyday task of writing and teaching theology. My mind is drawn back to a weekend spent with colleagues, Dr Joel Hodge and Assoc. Prof. Dr Jamie Calder SJ and friends, Joel and Jamie, whose idea it was to respond to that need with an appropriate space or place to do so.









So, we wrote a kind of ‘manifesto’, or first founding document, to kick start the process….and others got on board, colleagues and friends, to back, support, think out and make it happen.

This gives me peace… I have written before about how coming to Australia was a very clear discernment, as clear as I have ever had. This helps when things are less easy… to rest in the fact that God wants me here. But I am very aware, right now, of not being in control, of responding to each call in a way that feels discerned, often very joyful, frequently challenging, but that the thread is not mine. My prayer all last week – and it was one of those weeks you swim through, head down and determined – was simple: open hands before God asking for light, and “Are you sure about this?” and getting one and only one sense back: “I trust you”.





And the you was plural: it consoles me (in the Ignatian sense of the word) to have friends I care for and respect amongst my colleagues: people whose life and thought convince me and allow real spaces of vision and possibility open up. Theology is an ecclesial, shared vocation. For with all our limitations, the Australian Church and theological community is a graced space for me, at this moment.







The challenges written into Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s beautiful talk are wandering around my head still: leadership in any realm is not easy, and, to paraphrase, if we do our work well, we shall ruffle feathers… at some stage! Deep breath. I so hate conflict?! But forward is the only way. And we shall grow into what that means.

One of the quests of the Centre shall be to reflect upon our understanding of ministry and service. To bring Prof Richard Gaillardetz’ insights into this space,

Vatican II invites us to understand all ecclesial ministry as continuous re-ordering Church communion, as re-configuring, transforming, our relationships for the good of the whole.





For that reason, we finished with a rite of blessing and commission for those implicated in the Centre.

Archbishop Mark praying for the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy in the Commissioning Rite

The first part of my response to the Archbishop might give some idea of how I am trying to get mind and faith life around this continuation, new beginning, or perhaps we could think about as a ‘restart’ of what my mission and ministry is meant to be right now:

One small excerpt of my response to Archbishop Mark’s speech

“For just such a time as this” Esther 4:14. This Scripture passage emerged as the key phrase, message, image that seemed to capture the sense for us as a faculty group, of what was happening as the project of this Centre we are launching evolved.
For just such a time as this’.
Queen Esther finds herself in the unwelcome predicament of being a nearly-forgotten wife of the king of Ahasuerus whose head of military is scheming to annihilate her people. And she does not have access to him without risking her life. So the prophet Mordecai reminds her, with quintessential prophetic faith, that perhaps she finds herself where she is, an enslaved and then wedded wife of a foreign king, for just such a time this.” So, she dresses up to the nines and musters all her powers of intuiting and organising, and writes the next chapter of the people of God. For just such a time as this.
It’s the “just” that captivates me. The precision of God’s timing and of the prophet’s faith-filled capacity of seeing and reading it: Just when you think things are not right, precisely when you thought you had enough on your plate [how was your week? ?]; Now, when God’s eternal present is harder than ever for people to access: we are called to muster all our creativity and resources– which are not legion, even while national – and respond to the expressed need from a multitude of forums for a theological formation that equips us for a future we don’t know…..


We are seeking to provide spaces of theological thinking for a future we do not know.  And cannot know. None of us here…And that’s a good thing, if we read in faith how we are made and how God has chosen to work. Not our problem. Above our pay-grade to control the future. But it is ours to reflectively and prayerfully envision. And in grace to begin to lay the foundations for a solid pathway, to find a “how”.

So all hands of deck and all gifts on the table. There is work to be done.
























The Xavier Centre takes is name from Francis Xavier the missionary Jesuit one play about his life calls “El divino Impaciente”, the divine impatient one. this work ends with Francis, looking at China, where he did not reach, saying: ” to God: ‘Five talents you gave me, I give you another five”. I pray it be a place in which we, and many, get to see their gifts flourish for the good of the all.







I am your true shepherd – Where are you and where am I?

I will lead you there – What to do when truth lies?

Beside still waters – I wish I knew where… I’d go anywhere!

Come and meet me in the middle of the air – Could you meet me in the middle of the air?

I will meet you in the middle of the air – I would meet you in the middle of the air…



Macauley Parker Burton and Ashwin Acharya helping me, once gain, to open musical spaces for theological thought