Dominic Dimech: Returning the Basic Gift of Faith

By Jordan Grantham, 14 June 2017
Dominic Dimech in the Quadrangle of the University of Sydney. Photo: Jordan Grantham/Diocese of Parramatta

Read more about this youth group leader and university philosopher

Dominic Dimech, 24 years old, is a leader of the youth group ‘BasicGift’, at Holy Spirit Parish, St Clair. The middle child of four in a Maltese family, he is an articulate and affable young man completing a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Sydney.

“It’s important to share your faith. The Catholic Faith, in a sense, is a communal faith,” Dominic told Catholic Outlook under the now deceased jacaranda tree in the Quadrangle of the University of Sydney.

Dominic’s journey to become leader of the youth group began when a friend at St Dominic’s College, Kingswood invited him to gain more experience of the Faith.

This youth group’s experience of faith excited Dominic, the same ‘BasicGift’ in St Clair. Now that he is in a position to give back. Dominic aims to help others with the Faith, the same way he was enlightened.

Dominic’s goal of giving back to the community is part of a broader philosophy of generosity, which also influences his professional life.

His academic inspirations include Professor Helen Beebee, a Hume scholar and honorary professor at the University of Sydney. Dr Beebee is “such a clear and great writer” as well as a generous teacher, according to Dominic. This academic relationship increased Dominic’s interested and dedication to his study.

The 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume is considered a sceptic regarding spirituality and religion but Dominic argues that people can be religious and deeply scholarly.

In his dissertation, Dominic is examining whether Hume “fails to appreciate the difficulty of his situation”. Hume’s difficulty is that he denies possible justification for belief in external objects but also implies the existence of external objects as unproblematic.

The International Hume Society Conference was held earlier this year at the University of Sydney and was an opportunity for Dominic to meet many of these scholars and be present in their academic discussions.

Dominic Dimech and the famous jacaranda tree at the University of Sydney Quadrangle. Photo: Jordan Grantham/Diocese of Parramatta

This scholarly tradition and the academic life of universities owe much to the Catholic Church. Indeed, the Church founded many of the oldest universities in the world. These include the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Sapienza (Rome) and Bologna. University academic dress is derived from the dress of the clergy, as all early students were clerical, at least in minor orders.

“The Catholic Church has a great tradition of philosophers,” Dominic said.

Significant Catholic philosophers include St Thomas Aquinas, St Augustine of Hippo, Boethius, Bacon, Abelard, Erasmus, Thomas More, Descartes, Pascal, John Henry Newman and Pope Benedict XVI, to give just the tip of the ice burg.

Dominic recommends Pope St John Paul II’s encyclical letter ‘Fides et Ratio’, or ‘Faith and Reason’ as a must read. Michael Dummett was a prominent metaphysician and convert at the University of Oxford, who also inspires Dominic.

These figures grappled with faith in their works and can inspire and strengthen the faith of readers. St Augustine’s influence can be found in ‘BasicGift’ because the parish is in the pastoral care of the Augustinian Friars.

‘BasicGift’ meets each Sunday. Dominic organises several types of events, including reflective ‘Connect’ evenings. Communal Dinners and jam nights are also scheduled throughout the year.

The group provides mutual support to young members of the parish, especially in difficult times. ‘BasicGift’ provides ongoing support to Augustinian Volunteers Australia, helping refugee and Indigenous youth.

Together, Dominic and ‘BasicGift’ youth group return the gifts of grace, faith and friendship that they have received.

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