The Australian Catholic Students Association is the national organisation of Catholic students, committed to witnessing to the Gospel message of hope as proclaimed by the Magisterium and Tradition of the Catholic Church. It joins itself with the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, when they said:
“The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men and women. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation, which is meant for every person. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.”
(Preface, Gaudium et Spes)
ACSA entrusts itself to Holy Mary, Mother of God under the title “Sedes Sapientiae” (Seat of Wisdom). as assigned by Pope John Paul II The Great as a gift to students in The Great Jubilee Year of 2000
“I entrust your journey to Mary, Sedes Sapientiae, whose image I entrust to you today, so that she may be welcomed as a teacher and a pilgrim…Mary supported the Apostles with her prayer at the dawn of the evangelisation; may she also help you.”
(Universities Need Credible Witnesses to Christ, 25 August 2000)
The official motto of ACSA is Via Veritas Vita (The Way The Truth The Life) an allusion to Christ’s witness about our mission and life in the Trinity,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
(The Gospel of St. John)
The members of ACSA are committed to:
- Witnessing to Jesus Christ in charity through Mary.
- Supporting and encouraging Catholic students in their spiritual, intellectual, pastoral, and human development of their faith, in seeking to build a Catholic culture to live in truth and charity.
- Supporting the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, and joyfully expressing our fidelity to the Magisterium and The Holy Father, through active participation in the life and the mission of the Church and its new evangelisation.
- Joyfully and enthusiastically promoting and propagating the social teaching of the Church.
How it Started
Rosemary Goldie was commissioned to bring the IMCS to Australia in 1938 by General Secretary Rudi Salat. This lead to the affiliation of the Sydney University Newman Society in 1938 at the 18th Congress of Pax Romana. From this 1940 was set as the time for the first National conference. However, due to the out-break of WWII, this was not able to take place. Little then happened until 1942 when the first conference took place from January the 24th and 25th in Sydney. Those whoattended decided to start the University Catholic Federation of Australia, which was the first title under which the movement was known.
The founding members of the movement were Mr T Burke (Sectary), Rosemary Goldie (Assistant Sectary), Dr John Eccles, and Mr TA Herbert. At this conference the first constitution was developed. From this point began the National Movement of Catholic Students in Australia.
Between 1942 and 1950 the organisation, then known as University Catholic Federation Australia (UCFA), was run by university graduates who volunteered for positions of secretariat over the years. This was usually in the state in which the conference was being held that year. In 1950 it was decided to employ a part-time worker for the movement, although there was recognition of the need for a full time worker and greater monetary support. Nothing was done about this until 1976 when the movement received its first grant from the Australian Episcopal Conference (AEC). This funding body later became the Australian Catholic Bishops Committee for the Laity (ABCL).
In 1968 the movement was restructured and its focus moved from social activities to community building and social justice issues. In 1974 it was decided to re-structure the movement to make it more relevant to university students at the time. It was re-named the Tertiary Catholic Federation Australia (TCFA).
The Movement then went through another restructuring period in 1990 when it was re-named the International Movement of Catholic Students Australia (IMCSA).
In 2001, after several years of having been reduced in terms of funding and activities, ACSA began a new revival and its annual conferences have grown each year since. In 2007, over 350 delegates attended the Towards2008 Congress in Canberra.
Since then ACSA has held annual conferences, and has worked towards achieving and living out its mission.