ACU to celebrate 25 years of the Australian Bishops’ commitment to pastoral research

Australian Catholic University will celebrate the 25-year milestone of the national agency that conducts surveys and research for the Catholic Church with a free public lecture on 17 November.

Bishop of Bathurst Most Rev Michael McKenna will deliver the online public lecture entitled How Do We Know What We Don’t Know? to mark the 25th anniversary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s (ACBC) commitment to pastoral research through the National Centre for Pastoral Research (NCPR).

The free public event is being jointly hosted by Australian Catholic University and the Australian Catholic Council for Pastoral Research (ACCPR), which oversees the national Centre.

The lecture will look at how research and analyses undertaken by the NCPR has informed the planning for parish, school and other ministry developments, and have supported major Church initiatives, including the current Plenary Council.

ACU Emeritus Professor Gabrielle McMullen AM, who is chair of the ACCPR and played a pivotal role in establishing a partnership between ACU and the NCPR, said Bishop McKenna was instrumental in establishing the Centre’s foundations in 1996, so was ideally placed to deliver the anniversary lecture.

“Bishop McKenna was General Secretary of Australian Catholic Bishops Conference at the time this pastoral research initiative was set up 25 years ago,” Professor McMullen said.

“He also consistently uses the research of the National Centre for Pastoral Research in planning for the Diocese of Bathurst.

“He has a clear perspective on how the initiative that he helped to set up 25 years ago is of real value to the Church today.”

Following Bishop McKenna’s lecture, Daniel Ang, Director of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation will give a response from the perspective of parish planning, while Director of Education Policy for Catholic Schools NSW, Danielle Cronin, will illustrate the influence of the Centre in developing school projects.

ACU has had a long association with the NCPR including hosting the Centre at its Melbourne campus for many years, and by providing membership on the ACCPR.

ACU’s Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor James McLaren is the university’s ex-officio position on the Council.

Research conducted by the NCPR is used to support the development and transformation of Australian dioceses, parishes, and Catholic agencies, in conjunction with customised data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The Centre provides data and analyses about changing demographics, practices, and conditions to inform the pastoral needs of the Australian Church.

“These are really detailed analysis of ABS and other data to see which regions are growing or declining, or to understand the make-up of the Catholic population of an area, so you can plan for Catholic facilities that might need to be built, or might need to be closed, modified or amalgamated,” Professor McMullen said.

Professor McMullen said data from the recent 2021 Census would be made available to the NCPR in the next few months.

ACU and the Council congratulate the ACBC on its 25 years of commitment to pastoral research and invite the community to the lecture. 

The free public lecture How Do We Know What We Don’t Know? will be delivered online on Wednesday 17 November 2021 at 5pm AEDT.

Registration is essential by Monday 15 November at the following event registration page:

Media contact

Emilie Ng or (07) 3861 6047


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