Cathnews this morning carried the report that Fr Aidan Nichols has been appointed the “John Paul II Visiting Lectureship in Roman Catholic Theology” at Oxford University.
When I was coming into the Church, I read Fr Nichols’ book “The Shape of Catholic Theology”. It gave me a good handle on the new path along which I was being led (I hesitate to call it a “garden path”). I have since come to see that Fr Nichols is something of an expert on everything, and well deserves the title “Sacrae Theologiae Magister”.
I also had a very memorable lunch with Fr Nichols when he was visiting Melbourne for an intensive course at the John Paul II Institute. Kate Cleary (who was then the librarian of the Caroline Chisholm Library) rang him on the pretext of having briefly met him in the UK and offered to take him to lunch. He accepted (it was that or sandwiches at the Priory…), but was thinking to himself (as he told us over coffee and port) “I must know this woman from somewhere…”
In the meantime, plans changed and Lutheran Pastor Fraser Pearce offered to host the lunch. Myself and another Lutheran, Dr Adam Cooper (who has recently done his doctoral dissertation at Durham) were also invited.
In any case, Kate then arrived at the Priory on the appointed day, bundled him into the car and drove him out through the suburbs to the Donvale manse. All the while Aidan is thinking to himself “I don’t know who this woman is, where she is taking me, or why I am having dinner with a bunch of Lutherans!”
Nevertheless, the lunch turned out to be a spectacular affair (the Pearce’s are excellent hosts) and good theology was talked and ecumenism done. And I can add “Fr Aidan Nichols” to my list of droppable names!
There only remains one question…