The Call to Be

The Call to Be is a program of adult education in spiritual formation. It combines lecture-style input with good conversation.

The program commenced in February 2022 and one course is presented each month, between February and November. Each course comprises three or four weekly sessions on a weekday morning and are held in the Crypt of St Patrick’s Church in the Rocks, Sydney.

Our course presenters are highly qualified academics or spiritual leaders with lived experience, who previously offered their teachings at the Aquinas Academy. The topics reflect a breadth of tradition in spirituality, biblical studies, theology and the arts.

Our annual program will be found in the At a Glance section of our website homepage. Each course is described on our Events page.

There is also a mailing list: please register your interest with


More about The Call to Be

Current world events have emerged as pressing issues for the whole human family to address together. Dislocation and loneliness haunts many despite the supposed inter-connectedness provided by social media, technology and globalisation. The vast inequity between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ continues to create personal and global insecurities. In these times, the search for the essence of being, for grace and for the “more than” becomes more urgent.

The Aquinas Academy and now The Call To Be has helped many of us on this journey and in developing our spirituality. “Authentic spirituality facilitates the emergence of an authentic form or expression of human life – it is about becoming who we are called to be.” Father Michael Whelan SM, Ph.D.

With the closure of Aquinas Academy in 2021, a number of past students and volunteers decided to continue the discipline of adult formation through a combination of lectures and the mutual sharing of good conversation which progressively, by the power of the Holy Spirit, enables a graced emergence of what is true and real.

The call for greater personal involvement and responsibility by Pope Francis through synodality, encourages us. Our understanding of the meaning of synodality encompasses: all of the people, all of the time listening to each other as they journey together, to remove barriers and to bring people in from the margins.


We are all searchers. In the exposure to new ways of thinking, in the working of the Spirit, we are answering a call to discover our transcendent self.

The following quote from Father Adrian Van Kaam, a Catholic priest, teacher and writer on formative spirituality, explains  the foundation of our purpose: “The fundamental polarity of human life between what is and what ought to be, between lack and fulfillment, between determination and freedom, is not abnormal; it is the norm. Every person is exposed to it because of the inescapable structure of human formation.” (Adrian van Kaam, The Transcendent Self, Dimension Books, 1979, 172.)


The Call To Be, also the title of Father Michael’s book, seems to capture our intent: “This call is experienced within a recognition of a greater good, a presence beyond, a mystery. By ‘mystery’ we mean the inexhaustible intelligibility that is constantly there before us – in every person, event or thing. It summons us to surrender and participation. By surrendering and participating, we deepen our sense of belonging to something ‘more than’, something that does not lie within our control. It is through surrender and participation that we discover the deeper meaning and purpose that is the very essence of the ‘spirit-led’ life”. (Father Michael Whelan, SM, )

This is hard to do in our culture where there are strong currents of individualism, functionalism and rationalism. The ability to have genuine conversation is limited. We can all benefit from encounters with other seekers open to the wisdom of the Spirit. Journeying together is good!

Our experience at The Call To Be suggests that such ‘seekers’ come from a diversity of backgrounds. Many are wrestling with the form of Christianity they grew up with; some have no particular religious commitment; others were formerly committed within a Christian denomination and want to take a second look and those who are currently committed within the Christian tradition are seeking greater depth.

As Father Adrian Van Kaam explains, the spirit-led life because it is not within our control, is a matter of slow, graced emergence, rather than mastery. It  involves a searching and a certain amount of trial and error.

“My very being – my existence – is always pressing to find its proper object or end. And thus we find that the preparatory phase of religious development consists of a series of existential transferences which are due to my unconscious search for the proper object of my religious mode of existence”.

When Jesus says, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’ he is inviting us to find our true self in God.

“Make your home in my word, you will come to know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32.

This is the invitation! Join us in The Call To Be for lectures and good conversation.