Fall 1965

Page 103

The Forum

An Australian Experiment

Considerable attention has been given in recent times to the problems facing seminaries in the contemporary world. Father Stafford Poole's article, "Tomorrow's Seminaries" (America, 1/18/64,), presented a frank survey of a range of problems which confronts a large number of Catholic seminaries in the U.S.A. In this report I would like to consider the problem of student initiative specifically in the area of theological studies, and to outline a positive contribution towards a solution which is in the experimental stages in Australia. The fruits of our exprerience in Australia may be of some assistance to those confronted by similar problems in America or in other parts of the world. In order to explain the nature of this contribution, it will be necessary to sketch in, by way of background, certain features of Australian life. In Australia there is a marked difference between the methods employed in the teaching of the sacred sciences in the semi¡ naries and the teaching of the liberal arts in the universities. And this difference in methodology has important repercussions particularly in the area of the relationship between the clergy and the educated laity. In the universities discussion-group programs of different types are an essential part of the training program. In these discussion groups the student is given positive assistance to integrate the information he has received into the context of his personal experience. This is done by providing him with