This is a circular letter. Rather than remaining silent at this time of the year I wanted to wish you every happiness and success in 2005. I also wanted to share with you just some of the things for which I would particularly like to give thanks.
One of the highlights was the launch by Bishop Christopher Prowse, at Australian Catholic University, of my book Abhinavagupta: the Kula Ritual as elaborated in Chapter 29 of the Tantraloka. The work was the publication of my doctoral thesis: the translation of a Sanskrit text from Medieval Kashmir with a commentary. Mirroring the launch was an address sponsored by the Monash Asia Institute and the Centre for Studies in Religions and Theology at Monash University in collaboration with Swami Shankarananda of Mt Eliza. The topic was: ‘Tantra: Consciousness and Reality: Exploring Kashmir Shaivism’. It was perhaps the first time this topic was treated in such a context in Australia. The lecture theatre was full, attesting to the interest of the topic.
In September the Venerable Lobsang Tendar, a Gyuto monk from Tibet, came to live at my house. So now there are three of us: Swami Sannyasananda, a yogi in the Satyananda lineage who has been living here now for over twelve months, Tendar and me. It is an interfaith household – we get on well together and our conversations are fascinating.
My proposal of establishing a School of Prayer within the Archdiocese has been favourably received. Already much is in place. The School should be officially launched by Bishop Mark Coleridge in the latter part of April and the opening address given by Dom Lawrence Freeman osb. The purpose of the School is to promote the practice of meditation etc. in the parishes, schools and homes of the Archdiocese. It is an exciting and promising development
I have submitted for publication a manuscript on mantra meditation entitled: Jesus, the Mantra of God. Hopefully it will see the light of day in 2005. Dom Freeman agreed to write a Preface.
Interfaith activity is growing exponentially. The ‘Abraham Conference’ comprising Jews and Christians and Muslims took place very successfully at ACU in May and is set to develop significantly in 2005. The Jewish Christian Muslim four day live-in seminar in August was also very successful and set the basis for on-going activities of this sort.
In November the Archdiocese together with the Australian Intercultural Society (a Muslim-based group) co-hosted an Iftar (end-of-fast) dinner during the month of Ramadan. About 250 guests – about 125 Catholics and 125 Muslims filled the Central Hall at ACU. It was a statement by the Catholic Church of its wish to cooperate with the Muslim Community in a whole variety of fields. The Muslims share this wish.
The appeal made, in the context of legislation concerning vilification, by the Islamic Council of Victoria to VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal) was successful. Justice Higgins handed down his decision shortly before Christmas. It came as an immense relief. The Catholic Church, like the Uniting Church, had sought to lodge an Intervention in support of the ICV. The result was a resounding achievement for the ICV and has been reported around the world.
Early in the year Hindus and Christians (Catholics) gathered at the Parish for a ‘conversation’ on ‘The Many Faces of God’ where Dr Jayant Bapat and I were the main speakers.
The successful outcome of these initiatives has been deeply satisfying. Thanks be to God.
There have been many talks and lectures and a retreat given at Karith in August – the first in Australia – linking my field of study, Kashmir Shaivism, with the Gospels. It was enthusiastically received.
Many other things have been happening. Parish Life, the stable base of my activity, continues to develop. In May I celebrated my 30 years of ordination – where have the years gone? V. Rev. Les Tomlinson, the Vicar General, celebrated Mass in the Parish on this occasion. Maree Santamaria has joined as Pastoral Associate in the parish and is introducing many new initiatives. The renovation of St Joseph’s School, to the tune of $800,000, has begun. The Thanksgiving Campaign conducted in November has increased income by over 50%. This will allow some major developments in 2005, to be decided after consultation with the parish in March.
On the first of January 2004 my good friend and mentor, Fr Chris Barnett passed away. I was privileged and delighted to preach the homily at his funeral – I knew many details about his life that others may not have known.
I wanted to share with you some of the things that occupied my time this year. I hope 2005 will see you in good health and prospering in your endeavours.
(Rev. John Dupuche)