The Catholic Institute: A life time of learning opportunities
Professor Anne Tuohy
The Catholic Institute (TCI) was formed in 2012 by the Bishops of New Zealand to provide a national focus for the ongoing education and formation of New Zealand Catholics. In the creation of TCI, the bishops from all six dioceses brought together four key educational and research units: The Nathaniel Centre – New Zealand’s Catholic bioethics centre; NCRS – New Zealand’s Catholic Religious Education and curriculum development centre; CIT RE unit – the Religious Education department of Auckland’s Catholic Institute of Theology; and WCEC – the Wellington Catholic Education Centre; to create one national tertiary body. The TCI vision and commitment as a national tertiary institute is captured in Ex Corde Ecclesia, (the Apostolic Constitution for Catholic Institutions of Higher Learning). As with all Papal encyclicals, the opening phrase serves to not only name the document but also to provide readers with an insight into the nature of the document itself. Accordingly, ex corde ecclesia clearly affirms the commitment to educate and form the Catholic faithful comes ‘from the heart of the Church’.
In using this phrase to describe or benchmark tertiary education Pope John Paul II does two things. Firstly, he reminds us the Church has always been passionate about the education and formation of its members. From the teaching ministry of Paul in the small fledgling communities, which eventually became the Church, to the amazing range and number of primary, secondary and tertiary establishments we have today, it is clear the Church has always held education at its centre or heart. We can indeed be proud to be part of the rich Catholic intellectual tradition that has contributed so much to our world and our history.
Secondly, to claim that education comes from the heart of the Church reminds us authentic education is primarily about the integration of the heart and the mind; and no-where is this more evident, or more important, than in theological and religious education. To educate from the heart of our Church ensures our faith is properly supported by our thinking and that our thinking is appropriately nourished by our faith. To quote St Anselm, theology is essentially about ‘faith seeking understanding’.
So, in response to the New Zealand Bishops’ request to serve the New Zealand Church, TCI has developed a range of stimulating, flexible and ongoing educational opportunities to reach all Catholics in New Zealand. Through the provision of programmes and courses, delivered by face-to-face teaching, through print-based distance materials, or with on-line technology, our mission is to bring the heart of our faith into dialogue with the richness of our Catholic Intellectual Tradition. We invite you all to join us in this task. Visit our website www.tci.ac.nz to find out what TCI does and we look forward to meeting you in one of our courses.
Professor Anne Tuohy is the Director of The Catholic Institute.