2015 Annual Grants Program Winner:
Your non-tax deductible contributions to the Catholic Campaign have bolstered grassroots ministries. The husband and wife duo, Libby and Paul Blom, (pictured) had the inspiration to turn their lively dinner parties with theologian friends into a theology lecture series for others.
Libby and Paul are big believers in engaging in faith and theology through spirited discussion. Paul holds a Masters in Theology and coordinates religious education at Mt Maria, while Libby coordinates the Welcome Dinner Project for Queensland, a program established to help new arrivals to Australia feel welcome and included in local communities.
With their talents and interest in theology and hospitality, it was a natural fit for the duo to begin hosting informal dinners at home with fellow parish members, priests and academics of theology. Soon they realised the spirited, often intense, but always interesting discussions would be of interest to a wider audience beyond their living room.
Inspired by the meeting of many great minds, Libby and Paul, assisted by Father David Pascoe, engaged guest speakers and began welcoming 40-50 patrons at their lecture series, called Theology in the City, held in the CBD at St Stephen’s.
“I encouraged Paul and Libby to pursue their idea to have a lecture series at the Cathedral because I saw a real need to bring the intellectual dimension of our faith to the fore. The Cathedral is in a good, central location – I believe it should serve as a hub for people to deepen their knowledge of the faith.”
-VERY REV FR DAVID PASCOE, DEAN OF THE CATHEDRAL
These evenings are especially helpful to Brisbane Catholic Education teachers seeking accredited Professional Development in Religious Education.
Since it began Paul and Libby have sought a wide variety of quality speakers. Some of the speakers were people the Bloms knew through their own interest in theology and work in the church. Others they researched, matching experienced theological speakers with event themes. Topically, they selected ‘Mercy’ as the central theme to one of the lectures, just as His Holiness Pope Francis announced 2016 was to be the Year of Mercy.
Introduced to the series by Father David Pascoe, Archbishop Mark Coleridge agreed to speak at the first lecture, and will again appear for the final 2016 lecture.
Libby still provides catering for all events, and speakers are regularly flown to Brisbane and accommodated for their visits. The modest cover charge to audiences goes some way in covering costs, but as Libby points out, the grant money has been essential in promoting the event, and allowing it to continue to grow.
“This grant is such a blessing. Our attendees desire to be challenged, to explore, to question and to engage in the faith with academics, clergy, religious and other experts in the field.”