Catholic Leadership and Culture: An International Study Tour

US Capitol by a lake

Saturday 23 September to Sunday 8 October 2017

Washington DC, New York City and Rome


ACU Executive Education and the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy are offering an International Study Tour that builds on a theological understanding of leadership.

Join on this for just over two week to explore how authentic mission-driven leadership transforms lives, communities and organisations; how courage is required to interrupt cultural, organisational and political systems on behalf of the most vulnerable; and how authentic leadership can facilitate connections between people, ideas, cultures and geographies.

Through your own work in Catholic health, education, social services, and diocesan leadership, be inspired to adapt similar practices upon your return to Australia.

This is an extraordinary networking and life-long learning opportunity encompassing travel across three cities, and is designed to challenge you to think about your own leadership through an in situ experience of innovative leadership approaches:

  1. Washington DC: Courageous interruption of Political Systems
  2. New York City: Compassionate inclusion within Community
  3. Rome: Connection and invitation at the heart of leading the mission in the international Catholic Church


In Washington, we will visit the US Congress and key agencies that advocate with the seat of American democracy. In New York City we will visit the United Nations and those agencies who seek to effect change: for those who are marginalised, for the earth, and for those affected by social conflict. In Rome we will meet with a number of dicasteries (congregations), pontifical councils and commissions dealing with health, education, and Catholic charities. We will also meet with the discastery responsible for Public Juridic Persons (PJPs). Significant contact will be made with church agencies and NGOs such as Caritas Internationalis and the Community of Sant’Egidio. There will also be time to explore Rome and to experience the artistic and liturgical life of this important city.

Washington DC: 23–8 September 2017

The tour begins with a focus on how authentic mission-driven leadership courageously interrupts political systems so that the voices of the most vulnerable can be heard. Given that Washington DC is the seat of such power and influence, we will be arranging a one-day visit to Congress and follow-up with visiting agencies such as, the Centre of Concern (Jesuit think-tank on social justice issues), Pax Christi, Catholic Relief Services (Caritas USA), and the Board for Church and Society in the United Methodist Church. Seeing the interplay between power and advocacy is one of the keys to understanding how theology and ethics can and must shape the practice of leadership.

We will be staying in in downtown part of Washington, which is 1.3km from the White House, 2.1km from the Smithsonian museums and 4km from the United States Congress. We are in the process of organising meetings at Congress and with agencies that interact with Congress, such as the Franciscan Action Network, the (Jesuit) Center for Concern, the Brookings Institute, Pax Christi. We also hope to have contact with other Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) who exercise leadership and seek to influence policy and practice across health, education and social services.

New York City: 28 September–1 October 2017

The second leg of the tour centres on leadership that is exercised in the nexus between global systems – the United Nations – and community-based NGOs. In compassionately including the most vulnerable on behalf of the poorest of the poor and the earth itself, community based NGOs can make a difference by engaging in global systemic change. We visit agencies such as, Franciscans International and the Religious at the UN, the Catholic Worker movement, where we will encounter compassionate, intelligent and inspiring leaders.

In New York City, we will be staying in the heart of Manhattan, 0.3km from Grand Central Station, 1.3km from the United Nations, 0.48km from St Patrick’s Cathedral, and 0.9km from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). During our stay in New York City we will visit the United Nations and organisations that endeavour to participate in the UN process: Franciscans International, Religious at the UN, and the International Service for Human Rights.

Rome: 2–8 October 2017

The third and final leg of the tour considers the leadership capability of building connections between people, ideas and cultures. During our six-day stay in Rome, we will have meetings with the Vatican Congregation responsible for organisations with the status of Public Juridic Persons – a key interest for many of our Catholic agencies in health, education and social services. We will also meet with Cor Unum and Caritas Internationalis, and will spend time focusing on international and domestic outreach with the Sant’Egidio Community (who have been significantly involved in helping to resolve a number of major international disputes). During our stay in Rome, we will be utilising the ACU Rome Centre as our base and to engage in a number of roundtable conversations.

On our last working day in Rome (6 October), we will take part in our final roundtable conversation. Cardinal Walter Kasper, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and one of the most significant theologians and church leaders of the last century, has agreed to engage with us around issues of Catholic leadership and culture, after which we will share lunch with him. Cardinal Kasper will bring to the conversation his vast experience as a theologian, his engagement with three popes, his leadership of a Pontifical Council, and his efforts to bring about Christian unity in our fractured Christian community and world.

In Rome we will be staying in the Trastevere area of Rome, 0.55km from the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, which is the base church of the Sant’Egidio Community. We will be 1km from the ACU Rome Centre and 1.8km from St Peters Basilica and the Vatican.

An essential aspect of the tour is the integration of prior experience with formation and education. As a way of developing and enhancing reflective praxis, there will be time for daily reflections and roundtables while on the study tour.

It is not possible to visit these key places without time for leisure. We have chosen hotels which will make it easy to visit the key sights of the cities we are visiting.

The Catholic Leadership international study tour will be led by ACU’s Dr John Honner (cofounder of Eureka Street) and Dr David Leary OFM (Lecturer, ACU).

This study tour is available to graduates of the postgraduate leadership program, the Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Catholic Culture (GCLACC), and to participants and graduates of the Master of Leadership (MLeadership).

For participants considering further study, this study tour will provide a 20 credit point pathway into the new Master of Professional Studies in Theology (MPST) and the Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Current students and graduates of these two programs are also eligible for this study tour.

Those who have completed the KU Leuven Catholic Identity program (at KU Leuven) are able to apply for credit for their KU Leuven studies.

This enriching study tour is available for credit and in audit mode to senior leadership within the health, education, and social services, to leaders within diocesan structures, and to leaders and trustees of religious congregations and their works.

Register your interest

Further information

Dr David Leary
Phone: 0418 601 580
Email: david.leary@acu.edu.au