Sr Isabell Naumann ISSM has been named the first woman to lead an ecclesiastical faculty in Australia – the Catholic Institute of Sydney.
“I feel very honoured to have been entrusted by Archbishop Anthony Fisher with this new task,” Sr Isabell told Catholic Outlook.
Professor Tracey Rowland, an Australian member of the International Theological Commission, said Sr Isabell is a wonderful appointment.
“Professor Naumann is a world-class scholar. She has the rare gift of being equally excellent at scholarship and administration,” Professor Rowland said.
Sr Isabell is a consecrated woman in the Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary at Mt Schoenstatt in Mulgoa, in the Diocese of Parramatta.
“After the example of Fr J. Kentenich, the founder of the International Schoenstatt Movement, I see my role as a service to others in fostering a genuine Catholic academic culture in which academic knowledge is blended with the development of free and strong Christian personalities for Church and society,” Sr Isabell said.
She joins a rare group of woman leaders of the prestigious ecclesiastical universities around the world, including Sr Mary Melone SFA, Rector Major of the Pontifical Antonianum University in Rome.
“For me, it is a privilege to work with a fine group of colleagues and staff at the Institute as well as with the seminarians and their formators from various seminaries, religious communities, candidates for the permanent diaconate, and with lay faithful,” Sr Isabell said.
The Catholic Church has a proud heritage of education for women. The first woman to receive a University degree was Sr Juliana Morell, a Spanish nun and celebrated professor.
Sr Isabell completed her Doctorate at the University of Dayton, Ohio, which operates the International Marian Research Institute in Rome, in conjunction with the Pontifical Theological Faculty Marianum. She has lectured around the world for over a decade, including at the University of San Carlos, Cebu/Philippines, the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family and the Catholic Theological College in Melbourne, Campion College Australia, the University of Notre Dame and the Catholic Institute of Sydney.
Her expertise is in the Mariology and Ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council and in Theological Anthropology.
The Holy See granted an ecclesiastical faculty to St Patrick’s Seminary, Manly in 1954. The faculty was renamed the Catholic Institute of Sydney in 1976 and in 1996 relocated to Strathfield, where the Institute is now located. The historic and extensive Veech Library, which originated with Bishop John Bede Polding, is also located at Strathfield.
The Catholic Institute of Sydney offers study programs for all, currently including seminarians and laypeople from the Diocese of Parramatta, the Archdiocese of Sydney, the Diocese of Broken Bay, the Diocese of Bathurst, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, the Diocese of Wilcania-Forbes, and the Diocese of Kampala, Uganda.