The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Chancellor, the Hon Chris Ellison, and Vice Chancellor elect, Professor Francis Campbell, have last week made a historic visit to Rome to meet with Vatican officials and Australian bishops.
The rare opportunity was made possible thanks to the Australian bishops’ Ad Limina visit to meet with Pope Francis last week.
Mr Ellison had a series of meetings with high-level personnel at the Vatican, including Father Wojciech Giertych OP (Theologian to the Papal Household) and His Excellency Archbishop Paul Gallagher (Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with the States).
He also made a special visit to the Australian Embassy to the Holy See to meet with Her Excellency, Melissa Hitchman, Australia’s Ambassador to the Holy See.
A highlight of the visit was a meeting between Mr Ellison and Pope Francis at the Papal Audience on 26 June, when the Holy Father gave a blessing to the University.
Mr Ellison said the visit had been a successful one in promoting engagement by Notre Dame with the Vatican and also meeting with bishops during the Ad Limina conference.
Mr Ellison and Prof Campbell also met with the Superior General of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Rev Robert Epping CSC (the religious community that oversees Notre Dame in Indiana).
In addition, Mr Ellison and Prof Campbell attended a series of meetings with senior personnel including Cardinal Peter Turkson (Prefect of the Dicastery of Promoting Integral Human Development), Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi (Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education), and Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani (Secretary to the Congregation for Catholic Education, Titular Archbishop of Volturnum).
During the visit, Mr Ellison and Prof Campbell attended a Mass with the Australian bishops at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, which they found to be a deeply moving experience, especially the prayers around the tomb of St Paul.
As a result of the visit, a number of positive initiatives will be looked at by the University, Mr Ellison said – and from what he had seen, the Ad Limina was a great success.