New APTO publication successfully launched in Melbourne

Encountering God: Practical Theology and the Mission to Heal, the latest publication from the Association of Practical Theology in Oceania (APTO) has been successfully launched in Melbourne, and in Brisbane and Sydney as well. It is the fourth APTO publication, the third in the Explorations in Practical Theology series and the second to be published by Coventry Press.

About the book

Encountering God is a collection of twelve chapters developed from papers presented at the 2020 online APTO conference, together with two of the conference’s three keynote presentations. A further six papers from the conference were published in Issue #7 of the online Journal of Contemporary Ministry (journalofcontemporaryministry.com). The fourteen authors come from a variety of Christian traditions, including Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Churches of Christ, Uniting and Pentecostal.


The book is dedicated to the memory of Therese D’Orsa, an outstanding practical theologian, a longstanding leader in Catholic education, and the author, in partnership with her husband, Jim, of several books on Catholic education and Christian leadership.

About the book launch

The book was launched at Catholic Theological College on the evening of 20 July. Despite being one of Melbourne’s coldest and wettest days of the year, the launch still attracted a total of 48 people. The event was hosted by The Very Rev Dr Kevin Lenehan, the Master of the college, and the book was launched by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Peter Sherlock. Special guests included the publisher, Hugh McGinlay, APTO President Zach Duke, and Jim D’Orsa. Contributors to the book, Dr Bob Dixon and Dr Rosie Joyce, were also present.

A word from Peter Sherlock

In his address, Peter Sherlock said that the book had raised for him a consideration of what practical theology should be. It should be, he said, engaged, in that it is both interdisciplinary and concerned with context, revealed, that is, committed to discerning the action of the God who acts, and, by being founded on experience, serves as a testimony to the Gospel at work in the world. He noted that Part One of the book gives a striking account of relationships shattered by sexual abuse and terrorism, that Part Two describes the search for an ethically grounded way of life across a range of contemporary challenges from the pandemic to Artificial Intelligence, spiritual health, the Jesuit habitus, and Eco theology, and asks the question of what human wholeness looks like. Part Three, he observed, presents some pathways to healing, including in relation to women’s authority, pastoral leadership and conflict, Pentecostal revelatory experience, and through what he termed ‘a powerful chapter’, Brendan Long’s proposal for an economic and theological solution to paying redress to victims and survivors. His main criticism of the book was the absence of First Nations voices in a publication of the Association of Practical Theology in Oceania.

Brisbane and Sydney launches

In Brisbane, the book was launched on 8 July by Tim Norton SVD, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, while in Sydney it was launched on 29 August by Ruth Powell, the Director of NCLS Research.

Publication details

The publication details of the book are: Robert Dixon and Mary Eastham (Eds.). 2023. Encountering God: Practical Theology and the Mission to Heal. Explorations in Practical Theology series. Bayswater, Vic: Coventry Press.

Order Book

This article was provided to us by courtesy of Dr Bob Dixon

Photos courtesy of Dr Stephen Reid

Add comment

About VOX

VOX brings members of the University, especially academic staff, into conversation with churches, the community and you. It publishes original material and may republish or link to items from blogs, social media and news media.