Professor Nicholas Tonti-Filippini was a dynamo of generous encouragement with a mind and a heart to match. This month is the third anniversary of his death after a 25 year struggle with debility, pain and illness. At the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family he spent his last years spurring us all on to heighten our ethical imagination and our social conscience.Here is a very typical photo by our lovely Melbourne based photographer Fiona Basile. She has captured just how welcoming his office always was. You can get a sense of the mountain of projects and wires Nicholas somehow juggled brilliantly.
Nicholas was especially encouraging of women, especially those who fought against a culture which objectifies the vulnerable. This week we want to give thanks for his support of the Anima Women and to thank Doctor Mary Walsh and all his family. They very generously provided us with photos for our tribute.
This week we have asked an Anima woman (you might remember Annie’s wonderful work on our Woman and the Well Conference) and former bioethics student of his, Anne Maree Quinn, to reflect on her time with him. Her reflections are below.
We also would like to share two articles on him that appeared in the Catholic Weekly recently. One written by myself, and the other by Rev Dr Pascal Corby OFM Conv, the current lecturer in bioethics at the John Paul II Institute.
~ This week’s Around the Web written by our Convenor, Anna Krohn.
A Student’s Reflection
I had the privilege of sitting in many classes, tutorials and working on numerous projects with the late Professor Nicholas Tonti-Filippini. I always recognised that I was in the presence of not only a great mind and thinker but also of a kind-hearted and virtuous man.
I particularly admired his level-headed ability in all circumstances. A true philosopher, Professor Nick – as the JPII Students would call him – was always ready to defend life and important notions in relation to human flourishing. In a debate with his interlocutors, one could not overlook his animation and even delight when challenged. His ability to reveal intricate and important nuances in a manner that could be understood by everyone also highlighted his ability as a great teacher.
As a true Christian, Professor Tonti-Filippini was always ready to give an answer for the reason of the hope that was in him. Indeed, hope and love truly flourished within him. He was not only a teacher of ethics but a theologian who still continues to be a role model for living the Christian life. He suffered deeply yet accepted his crosses without complaint. He demonstrated through his determination and perseverance that everyday life requires us not to settle for mediocrity but to live fully in every moment.
As Pope Benedict XVI stated: “If we allow the love of Christ to change our hearts, then we can change the world.” In so many big and small ways Professor Tonti-Filippini changed the world for the better.
Our task now is to continue this work. To not be afraid of the world or the challenges of the times we face, but to fully live in this moment. In this way, everyday life becomes our true path to salvation.
~ By Anne Maree Quinn