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Vol 37 No 3



John Leary

John Wilcken SJ

Tony Paganoni CS

Andrew Murray SM

Michael Trainor


Kevin Mark



Peter Hearn MSC, A Theology of Mission: an analysis of the theology of mission of the Catholic diocese of Darwin in its ministry to Aboriginal people during the episcopacy of John O’Loughlin msc (1949–85). Nelen Yubu Missiological Unit, 2003. ISBN 0 9587869 6 8. Soft cover. 373 pages, 4 pages of illustrations. Available from the Nelen Yubu Missiological Unit (1 Roma Ave, Kensington NSW 2033, Tel. (02) 93152231, email mjwilson@chevaliercentre.org). Price: $30 plus postage.

In 1998 Peter Hearn approached me for advice on a thesis topic as part of his work towards a Master of Theology degree within the Sydney College of Divinity. As both of us had worked in the Catholic diocese of Darwin, we quickly came to the conclusion that Peter should work up an analysis of the church’s outreach to Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. A limitation appeared natural to us that he should limit his study to the period of the episcopacy of Bishop John O’Loughlin, under whom we had both worked as priests. Bishop O’Loughlin had been ordained bishop in 1949, and he died 14 November 1985.

The thesis covered dramatic times. The government had formulated a new deal for Aborigines. They were to be welcomed into becoming an intrinsic part of the Australian nation. They were to be assimilated. The new bishop embraced the new policy wholeheartedly, and he defended it steadfastly against the queries and attacks of men with much longer experience of the Aboriginal scene than he. It came as a shock that Aborigines did not want to be assimilated! They wanted something different. It can be wondered if Bishop O’Loughlin ever reconciled himself to the abandonment of the assimilation program. As the government went into its self-management mode, especially during the extravagant funding spree of the Whitlam era, and the years following, Bishop O’Loughlin took on a monitoring and braking role within the social structure.

The church scene was even more turbulent. The Second Vatican Council occurred 1962–1964. Theology was renovated. The theology of mission in particular was turned upside down and inside out. Catholic missionaries throughout the world had to do a total rethink of their aims and strategies. At an MSC mission meeting in Port Moresby in 1972 the representatives from the Northern Territory declared their area to be so unique that missiological observations made by outsiders would have no relevance to them, and vice-à-versa. As the winds of change, i.e. the Spirit, swept through the church, these attitudes had to be challenged.

In his thesis Peter has attempted to document and analyse the changes in the theology of mission that occurred in the Catholic diocese of Darwin over the period from 1949 to 1985. Significant happenings in an important part of Australia.

As time went on and Peter’s thesis grew in size and stature, he accepted an invitation from the Sydney College of Divinity to upgrade the degree he sought to Doctor of Theology. He was awarded the degree 3 May 2003.

NYMU undertook to print 50 copies of the thesis. Another printing of 100 copies was called for almost immediately. In the second printing the original detailed Contents was replaced by a more standard Contents at the beginning of the book, and the detailed one was reproduced at the back of the book under the title ‘Topics in Detail’ where it serves the function of an analytical index. The bibliographical section covers 11 pages.

— Martin Wilson MSC

Richard Falkinger, Ringing the Changes: New Liturgy Versus Heritage. Chronicles 1971-2000, David Lovell Publishing, Melbourne, 2002 [1 86355 092 5], 144pp. p/b, 97 illustrations, including 6 colour plates, duotone & b&w plates, floor plans, sketches RRP $47.00.

In 1970 architect Richard Falkinger was given charge of the initial internal improvements to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne. There began a professional involvement in the conservation, renovation and re-ordering of churches that has extended through three decades. Ringing the Changes is a chronicle of seven such projects, each characterized by the need to adapt existing ‘heritage’ church buildings—variously Gothic revival, decorated Gothic, baroque, and classical—to accommodate the post Vatican Council II renewed liturgical rites of the Catholic Church.

The projects documented in this volume are St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, St Mary’s Cathedral in Sale, St Patrick’s Cathedral in Ballarat, St Francis’ Church in Melbourne, Newman College Chapel in Melbourne, and Santa Maria in Vallicella in Rome.

The re-ordering of churches in the last forty or so years has attracted considerable controversy, both as regards the architectural heritage of older church buildings, as well as their perceived Catholic heritage when traditional forms of furnishing, ornament, devotion and art have been removed or altered in the name of achieving noble simplicity and suitability for current liturgical usage. Numerous studies of re-ordering projects in the USA and Europe have been made, but this is one of the few to focus mainly on Australian projects. As such, it makes an important contribution to local literature on the contemporary ordering of churches, while at the same time providing a record of some of the finest work undertaken in much admired older churches, buildings held in affection by many people.

As a chronicle, Ringing the Changes is both a record of projects and an autobiographical account. The record of projects is documented in each instance by an historical overview, a liturgical overview, the reproduction of important letters and other sources related to the project, floor plans, drawings and photographs. In the opinion of this reviewer, some of these projects have been more successful than others, though it must be acknowledged that the potential for successful re-ordering of church buildings will always be limited by the brief an architect receives.

The documented record is complemented by Falkinger’s personal account of each project, which at once traces the work undertaken, from architectural-liturgical brief to the completion of his commission, and recounts a personal journey that reveals the faith, dedication and vocation of the architect, and friendships formed along the way. An introductory essay, ‘The Architecture of Faith’, by Anthony J. Kelly CSsR, proposes a context for understanding and appreciating Falkinger’s work.

Ringing the Changes is a well-designed volume. It may have been enhanced had a standard been adopted for the presentation of floor-plans, for example by consistently showing the liturgical east or sanctuary end of each plan to the right of a page. And though Falkinger’s brief did not include the completion of the liturgical re-ordering of St Francis’ Church in 2000, it is disappointing that there is not a photograph of the church incorporating these recent changes, which he mentions in his text.

But these are relatively minor matters in what is quite a fine book, well deserving of recommendation.

— Stephen Hackett MSC