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  • Speakers 

    International keynote speakers 

    Dr Maureen O’Connell 

    speaker1After eight years in the Theology Department at Fordham University, New York, Dr Maureen O’Connell returned in 2013 to her native city of Philadelphia to Chair the Department of Religion at La Salle University, where she is also an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics. She holds a BA in history from Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, and a PhD in theological ethics from Boston College. She authored If These Walls Could Talk: Community Muralism and the Beauty of Justice (2012, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota), which won the College Theology Book of the Year Award in 2012 and the Catholic Press Association’s first place for books in theology in 2012. She is also the author of Compassion: Loving Our Neighbour in an Age of Globalization (2009, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York). An innovative theologian and dynamic teacher, her current research project explores racial identity formation, racism, and racial justice in Catholic institutions of higher education. Dr O’Connell serves on the board of the Society for the Arts in Religious and Theological Studies and is a member of S. Vincent De Paul parish in Germantown, where she is also a member of POWER (Philadelphians Organizing to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild). 

    Keynote presentation, Day 1, 14 July 2016  

    To Witness Is to Encounter: Mercy and the educator 

    Throughout this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis continually calls us to enter more fully into the brokenness of our world, our relationships, and our very selves in order to encounter more fully God's tender and transformative love. What does this call to mercy mean for us as educators? In what ways can mercy shape why we do what we do as teachers and how we do our work in our school communities and classrooms? This keynote will explore the theological significance of mercy in the Catholic tradition, most notably in the witness of Pope Francis, and lift up its implications for why and how we teach.  

    Dr William Cavanaugh 

    speaker2Dr William Cavanaugh is the Director of the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology and Professor of Catholic Studies at DePaul University, Chicago. His areas of specialisation are in political theology, economic ethics, and ecclesiology. He received his BA in theology from the University of Notre Dame in 1984, and an MA from Cambridge University in 1987. He later attended Duke University, where he received a PhD in religion in 1996. Professor Cavanaugh has published numerous books and articles, including Migrations of the Holy: Theologies of State and Church (2011, Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan); The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict (2009, Oxford University Press, Oxford); Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (2008, Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan); Theopolitical Imagination: Discovering the Liturgy as a Political Act in an Age of Global Consumerism (2003, T&T Clark, New York); and Torture and the Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ (1998, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford). His books and articles have been published in nine languages. 

    Keynote presentation, Day 2, 15 July 2016 

    Encountering Christ in the Wounds of the World: The Church as field hospital  

    Amidst an increasing emphasis on the disincarnated and the virtual, Dr Cavanaugh suggests that we direct our attention to the suffering bodies that bear the wounds of Christ in our world. The inspiring vision of mercy that Pope Francis has offered us this year is an incarnated vision, realised in concrete works of mercy and solidarity with those who suffer –encompassing both physical and spiritual needs. Francis’ vision is not merely a vision of the Church as social service agency, but as a body always needing and offering mercy. The works of mercy connect us to the core of the Catholic faith, the idea that God has become incarnate among us in the figure of Christ, who incorporates our bodies into His body. In this way, too, the works of mercy connect us to the heart of Catholic spirituality and sacramentality as Eucharistic and reconciliatory, in which God offers his merciful love to a wounded and divided world, and incorporates us into that love-offering in Christ. 

    Plenary speaker 

    Genevieve Bryant 

    speaker3_newGenevieve Bryant is an upcoming artist from Melbourne, heavily involved in music as songwriter, recording artist, teacher and behind the scenes in events. Genevieve also has a passion for music ministry and has spent many years working with ministry groups, across all ages, abilities and visions, hoping to share her gift with others and strengthen their faith. Her song Pure of Heart was chosen as the theme song for the recent Australian Catholic Youth Festival in 2015.

    Plenary presentation, Day 2, 15 July 2016 

    Exploring Mercy in Music  

    Melbourne artist Genevieve Bryant will close the conference with honest stories and melodic song that will capture your heart. Reflecting on the conference theme, Be Witnesses of God’s Mercy, Genevieve said, ‘I have the opportunity to travel throughout Australia and witness first-hand the struggles we are facing in the young Church of Australia. I am also inspired by so many who are out there making a difference. In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, I am called to be a Witness. We are all called to be the light of Christ, a source of mercy and compassion for all those who may not experience that light anywhere else and we must to invite others to do the same’. 


    Sr Brigid Arthur CSB 

    Sr Brigid Arthur, a Brigidine Sister, has had a long and passionate engagement as an educator, mainly with secondary students in Brigidine colleges throughout Victoria. As principal in a number of colleges and later a founding member of the Brigidine Secondary Schools Council, Brigid’s passion for education that encompasses and promotes the inclusion and growth of all young people was paramount. In 2001, Brigid’s work began to encompass the increasing needs of asylum seekers and refugees in our society. In a less-than-welcoming climate, Brigid’s vision for students – ‘all are welcome’ – now began to extend to the needs of asylum seekers and refugees.

    Michael Walter 

    Michael Walter has volunteered and worked for the Salesians, the Passionists, Melbourne Legacy and Yooralla, and currently works for the St Vincent de Paul Society (where he has volunteered since he was 17). In his role as the Youth Engagement Coordinator he supports the young adult volunteers to make an impact in their local community. Trained as a high school teacher he wishes to motivate and enthuse other young people to make their patch a better place. He loves to meet new people, play music, read, travel, watch films, and come up with innovative solutions to social justice problems.

    Armchair Reflections, Day 1, 14 July 2016  

    Our panellists:

    • Dr Maureen O’Connell, keynote speaker
    • Sr Brigid Arthur CSB, Co-founder of the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project
    • Michael Walker, Youth Engagement Coordinator, St Vincent de Paul Society

    will be in conversation, exploring the conference theme, ‘Be Witnesses of God’s Mercy’. Each guest will reflect on themes that have been drawn from Misericordiae Vultus, the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, outlining the overall spirit and intentions for the Jubilee, as well as the spiritual fruits that are hoped for. Reflecting on their life and work, our guests will share stories about tenderness … forgiveness … prayer … conversion … compassion … patience … listening … grace  … inclusion … pilgrimage. 

  • 'Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.' (Luke 6: 36)