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Michael Whelan SM, PhD

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Michael Whelan is a Marist priest of the Australian Province, ordained in 1972. After four and a half years of high school teaching in Burnie, Tasmania (1973-May 1977) he gained his MA from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. He lectured at the Catholic Theological Union and Aquinas Academy in Sydney from May 1979 to May 1981. He gained his PhD from Duquesne University in 1984, specializing in the study of spirituality. From 1984 to 1995 he was Head of the Spirituality Department of the Union Theological Institute in Sydney and was Principal of the Catholic Theological Union from 1989 to 1994.

He was President of the Sydney College of Divinity, 1989-1990. During these years Michael was also involved with the formation of Marist students. He is currently Director of the Aquinas Academy, Executive Director of Catalyst for Renewal (of which he is also a founding member (1994)), he edits the Catalyst journal, The Mix and is co-founder of Spirituality in the Pub (1996).

Michael has published a number of articles in the field of spirituality. He is also the author of four books: The Call to Be (1986/2000), Living Strings: An Introduction to Biblical Spirituality (1994), Without God All Things are Lawful (1995) and A Friendly Guide to Prayer (2012). Michael also edited the eight Jubilee Lectures, published by the Society of St Paul in 2006.

Special interests :
Michael enjoys time at the Aquinas Academy’s hermitage, “Nazareth” on the Colo River, near Windsor in NSW. He believes renewal in the Catholic Church will not happen until/unless we recover the mystical heart of our faith. This means a wholehearted commitment to fostering contemplation for all. He finds his pastoral compass in the words of the founder of the Marist Fathers: “Once they have tasted God everything else will look after itself”. Michael believes people and relationships are far more important than doctrine and law, absolutely necessary as doctrine and law are.

Publications include:

  • “Prayer and Spirituality for Today” – A series of 12 lectures on audio cassette, published by the Daughters of St. Paul, Sydney, 1979.
  • “Towards a Contemporary Christian Spirituality” – A series of 30 lectures on audio cassette, with Study Notes, published by Malgriff Media, Sydney, 1980.
  • “Religious Life Today: Some Foundational Considerations”, Religious Life in the Australian Church Today, St. Paul Publications, Sydney, 1985, 9-28.
  • “Christian Life Formation” – A series of 60 lectures on audio cassette, with Study Notes, published by the Daughters of St. Paul, Sydney, 1985.
  • “Some Notes on the Shared Theological Education of Laity and Clergy in Australia”, The Australasian Catholic Record, LXIV, 4 (1987), 370-373.
  • “Idealization in the Lives of Roman Catholic Religious and Priests: Reflections on a Counterfeit Form”, Studies in Formative Spirituality, 9, 3 (1988), 329-338.
  • “The Right to One’s Own Spiritual Life: Reflections on Canon 214”, Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand – 22nd Annual Conference (1988), 135-150.
  • “In Search of a Place to Stand: Towards a Science of Human and Christian Life Formation”, The Australasian Catholic Record, LXVI, 1 (1989), 51-66.
  • “Death and Resurrection” – ABC Radio Talk, March 25th, 1989, published as audio cassette.
  • “Life as Possibility” – ABC Radio Talk, June 10th, 1989, published as audio cassette.
  • “Rigid Expectation Versus Creative Anticipation” – ABC Radio Talk, October 6th, 1989, published as audio cassette.
  • “Parents, Children and the Search for Values” – Audio Cassette (Transmission Media Productions, Lane Cove), August, 1989.
  • Five Lenten Presentations – previously given on ABC TV, February 1990 – published in Inspirational Talks From World of Worship, ABC Enterprises, 1991, 1-33.
  • “When Anomalies Constantly Appear At The Interface Between Learning And Experience We Must Act: Reflections On The Emergence Of A New Science”, in Studies in Formative Spirituality, XIV, 2 (May 1993), 271-286.
  • Review of B. Dwyer, Catholic Schools: Creating a New Culture, E. J. Dwyer, 1993, in The Catholic Weekly, July 1993. Also published in Catholic Ethos, No.9, August 1993.
  • Review of F. Wallace, What God Wants: Frank Wallace’s Guide To Finding What God Wants, E. J. Dwyer, 1993, in The Catholic Weekly, October 1993.
  • “The Flight of the Ojah Bird”, National Outlook, 15, 8 (Oct. 1993), 16-18.
  • “A Grim Anniversary”, National Outlook, 15, 9 (Oct. 1993), 24-25.
  • “Counterfeit Elements in Christian Spirituality: A Challenge for Theological Educators”, Journal of Spiritual Formation, Volume XV, 2 (May 1994), 211-230.
  • The Call To Be, Society of St. Paul, Sydney, 1986.
  • Living Strings: An Introduction to Biblical Spirituality, E J Dwyer, 1994.
  • Without God All Things Are Lawful, Society of St Paul, 1995.
  • Issues for Church and Society in Australia, Editor and contributor, St Paul’s, 2005.
  • “Moralism versus Mysticism – The Struggle to gain the Mystical Heart of our Faith”Australasian Catholic Record, Volume 81:1, October 2004.
  • “The Human Ground of Hope – A Pastoral Reflection”, Australasian Catholic Record, Volume 82:4, October 2005.
  • “Being Loved into Freedom – A Christian Perspective on Detachment”, Australasian Catholic Record, Volume 88:3, July 2011.
  • A Friendly Guide to Prayer, John Garratt Publishing, 2011.