Victoria: Annual Sr. Shirley Sedawie Oration

The Council of Christians and Jews (Vic) presents the Annual Sr. Shirley Sedawie Oration, which will be delivered by the Rev. Dr Michael Trainor on the topic of The Contribution of Jewish-Christian Dialogue in a World of Fundamentalism and Political Extremism at the Temple Beth Israel, East St Kilda, on Sunday 5th of August.


Sr Shirley Sedawie was a member of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, who succeeded in building bridges of understanding between the Catholic Church and Jewish people in Australia and beyond after World War II.

In 1962, she was sent to Jerusalem to study Judaism and Hebrew. When she returned, she founded the Centre for Jewish-Christian Dialogue in Box Hill. She began a BA at Melbourne University, majoring in Semitic languages and Middle Eastern thought, then completed an MA in 1970; her thesis was The Beginning of the Conflict between Christian and Jews.

In 1970, the centre relocated to Cotham Road, where an excellent library of Judaica and theology was established.

Shalom, as it was called, became a place for lectures and meetings. An increasing number of Christian groups seeking knowledge about Judaism were welcomed. Many senior students at Our Lady of Sion College at Box Hill benefited from Sedawie’s Biblical studies course. Survivors of the Shoah (Hebrew for Holocaust) living in Melbourne found in Sedawie a trusted and lifelong friend. She became one of the founders of the Council of Christians and Jews in Victoria and an active member of its executive committee.

In 1977, she returned to Jerusalem for further study and worked at the Sisters of Sion’s Centre for Biblical Formation ”Ecce Homo” on the Via Dolorosa in the Old City overlooking the Temple Mount. The following year she joined an international team at the Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations in Rome, where she later became its director. She was responsible for the quarterly publication SIDIC that was published in three languages and focused on the international progress of the Jewish-Christian dialogue.

Sr Shirley Sedawie also worked with the Vatican’s Department of Relations with Judaism and the Jewish People. And, she lectured at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

Sr Shirley Sedawie returned to Australia in 1988 and rejoined her community in Sydney. Rabbi Raymond Apple of Sydney’s Great Synagogue has written that “the breakthrough (establishing the Council of Christians and Jews) occurred in 1988 when Sister Shirley Sedawie returned to Australia”. While in New South Wales, and true to her enthusiastic nature, she befriended “Mum Shirl” and the Aboriginal community at Dundarra; Sedawie remained a staunch supporter of the community for the rest of her life.

Annual Oration

Rev’d Dr Michael Trainor is senior lecturer in biblical studies with the Australian Catholic University. His area of specialisation is the study of the New Testament with particular focus on the gospels and their relevance for our contemporary world. Michael is Co-Chair of the Uniting Church-Roman Catholic Dialogue of South Australia, Co-Chair of the South Australian Council of Christians and Jews, current President of the Australian Catholic Biblical Association, Chair of the Australian Council of Christians and Jews, and Executive Board member of the International Council of Christians and Jews. In 2007 Michael received an Order of Australia (AM) for his services to theology, archaeology and inter-faith relations. His latest books include ‘Earth’s Child: An Ecological Listening to the Gospel of Luke’ (2012-Sheffield Press), ‘The Body of Jesus and Sexual Abuse: How the Gospel Passion Narratives inform a Pastoral Response’ (Wipf & Stock, 2015), and, most recently, co-authored with Prof. Paul Babie of Adelaide University Law School, ‘Owning and Consuming: Neo-Liberalism and the Biblical Voice’ (Routledge, 2018)

Event Details

Oration: The Contribution of Jewish-Christian Dialogue in a World of Fundamentalism and Political Extremism
Date: Sunday, 5 August 2018
Time: 3:00pm
Location: Temple Beth Israel, 76-82 Alma Road, St Kilda
RSVP: Tel: 9429 5212 or Email:
Catering: Kosher afternoon tea provided
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