Given that I am captivated by the Western intellectual tradition, especially as transmitted by Catholic educational institutions that further the liberal arts, I am gratified to have been able to interview Dr. Paul Morrissey, who is the president of Campion College Australia (in Sydney). I asked Dr. Morrissey some questions about the remarkable occurrences at Campion College, and what makes it unique. I thank Dr. Morrissey for his time. Please enjoy the transcript of the interview here.
1) Please tell us a bit about your faith journey, and what the Catholic faith means to you.
I am a cradle Catholic, but first really engaged with my faith as a volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity in India. What initially drew me into a deeper encounter with Christ was the power of prayer and lived charity that I witnessed there. To see first-hand living saints in action. I had the special privilege of meeting Mother Teresa while I was there. Since then, the Catholic faith has always been the center of my life, and it is impossible to imagine living without it.
2) Where did Campion College in Australia come from, and what place does it hold within the broader realm of Catholic education around the globe?
Campion College was the vision of two laymen from Australia, James Power and Karl Schmude. They had seen the renewal in authentic Catholic liberal arts education in the United States, and dreamed of starting a similar college in Australia. This was an unlikely dream, because in Australia, higher education is dominated by large public universities, and did not have any liberal arts colleges. In spite of the many seeming obstacles, in 2006, the dream was realized when Campion College opened its doors to its first students. As a Catholic institution of higher learning, our mission is based on the central claim that faith and reason lead us to the truth of things. Our defense of both faith and reason is an important witness in higher education today, when both are under attack.
3) Please tell us more about Campion's motto of "Educating for Eternity" — what are your hopes for your students?
A Catholic liberal arts education is not simply about earning a degree or qualification. It is a springboard for what we hope is a lifelong pursuit of learning. This learning is not simply about knowledge, but extends to a growing in wisdom. We hope that our students will become wise so as to lead lives worthy of their creation by God; lives that are lived for his greater glory.
4) I tend to ask this of my interviewees — what is your favorite scriptural passage, and why?
A difficult question! I think the Prologue of John's Gospel. I have taught many classes on Christology, and this passage gets to the heart of who Jesus is. I also love this passage as it provides such an inexhaustible source of reflection and contemplation into the very heart of the mysteries of our faith.
5) Despite turmoil in the Church during the second half of 2018 in particular, what are some signs of hope that you have observed, especially in light of your role as the head of Campion College?
In some ways, the Church is always in turmoil, and I always like to remind myself that history shows that the Church, the barque of Peter, is always being rocked from both waves on the outside and wayward sailors within. And there are always signs of hope. The trouble is that we are always looking for big signs of hope. However, the small miracles of conversion, of acts of charity, of forgiveness, of growing in virtue, are happening all around us every day. It is important that we do not miss these, and it is a privilege to see them in my role at the College. I am also privileged to see in Australia a real missionary spirit among many young Catholics. These missionaries desire to spread the beauty of the Catholic faith in all its fullness, and we are very proud at the College to have educated many of them.