Melbourne News

A Catholic Vision for a Just Society: John Hassett Memorial Lecture series

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Media and Communications 
Over the last three weeks, Deepdene, Balwyn and Camberwell Parishes have hosted the inaugural John Hassett Memorial Social Justice lecture series on Catholic Social Teaching and Action on Thursday evenings at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Gathering Space Deepdene.
The three-part series was launched by Very Rev Joe Caddy, Episcopal Vicar for Social Welfare and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
The series was facilitated by Ashley Mitcham, who is a wife, a mother to three children, and a budding theologian and explored the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. Ashley is a graduate of the Australian Catholic University, holding a Bachelor of Theology with Honours. For the last four years, Ashley has worked at ACU as an academic tutor in Biblical Studies and Catholic Social Thought. She is currently preparing to take on doctoral studies in systematic theology.
‘We explored nine principles: the dignity of the human person, the common good, and participation in week one, preferential option for the poor, subsidiarity, and global solidarity for the second, and then finally promotion of peace, universal destination of goods, and stewardship of creation,’ says Ashley.
‘I outlined each principle, giving theological and biblical rationality for the principle and then discussed a few examples in today's world where the principle is not being achieved.’
In the first week, Ashley gave a brief history of the papal documents around social justice issues and outlined the background and reasons for each document. In the final series, she discussed the ACBC social justice statement for 2019/2020, Catholic social teaching in action, and how to discern and make decisions for action on social issues.
‘The mission for the series was to share the “best-kept secret” of the Catholic Church, the Catholic Social Teaching,’ Ashley says. ‘To explain what the Catholic approach to social justice actually is, and what it must look like.’
‘What the Catholic vision is for a just society. I aimed to cover a few of the misconceptions and inspire others to consider the principles in all areas of their lives, but especially when serving the community.’
The series concluded with the renewal of the John Hassett Social Justice Network.
John Hassett was a long-time parishioner at Our Lady of Good Counsel Deepdene. John was the convener of the Parish Social Justice Network and he served more than once on the Parish Council. John’s career as a lawyer and County Court judge was predominantly centred on Criminal Law. He was renowned as a wise and respected dispenser of justice. His legal career along with his Catholic faith gave rise to his abiding interest and commitment to social justice. He served as Chair of the Catholic Archdiocesan Commission for Justice, Development and Peace and was a member of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council. John died on 5 September, 2018.
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