Confirmation of Candidature - Toni Palombi

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Presenter:  Toni Palombi Master by Research College of Indigenous Futures, Arts and Society Charles Darwin University

Date: Mar 09, 2020

Time: 1:00pm to 2:00pm

Contact person:  The Office of Research & Innovation (ORI), Charles Darwin University
T: 08 8946 6548

Location:  Yellow 1.2.48 Savanna Room, Casuarina Campus, Charles darwin University

Echoes of History: Life Stories of Priests, Nuns and Brothers in South Australia

Toni Palombi
Master by Research
College of Indigenous Futures, Arts and Society
Charles Darwin University

The life stories of Catholic clergy in South Australia aged over 60 years who have been in service in the state over several decades will form the basis of this Master of Philosophy (MPhil) research. Drawing on insights from the fields of oral history, literary studies, and creative writing, the primary output of the thesis will be a creative non-fiction piece on this generation of clergy who have experienced significant social, political and religious changes in the twentieth century. Their lives and period of ordination have been marked by dramatic events, such as World War II and the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic, and social shifts such as the advent of post-war migration to Australia, the abolition of the White Australia Policy, and the rise of the peace and women’s movements. The Catholic Church itself also experienced significant changes during the second half of the 20th century until the present time. These changes were associated with the holding of the Second Vatican Council, declining ordination numbers and increasing attention paid to sexual abuse carried out by Catholic clergy. 

The uniqueness of each life, and the lens it offers to understand broader social, political, and religious changes across more than six decades in South Australia will be the key focus of the stories. Through an analysis of life stories, the study aims to reveal the impact of macro-level changes on the individual and the agency of each individual in negotiating significant change both within the Catholic Church institution and in the world around them. In so doing, the study potentially offers a unique perspective on history and life in South Australia and contribute to the field of creative non-fiction and life writing.

Toni Palombi is an Adelaide-based writer and communications specialist. She has worked with nRSVP: organisations in Asia and the Middle East addressing issues such as child protection, media freedom and women’s rights for over 10 years. She currently works for a not-for-profit organisation in Australia and edits and manages the International OCD Foundation blog which seeks to raise mental health awareness though personal stories.

With a passion for life writing, her writing has appeared in publications including the Guardian, Roads and Kingdoms, Emrys Journal and RavensPerch. Her publications include the life stories of young Franciscan brothers written after spending a year living in a thirteenth-century Italian monastery. Her motivation in doing so was to gain a deeper understanding of their decision to ordain at a young age at a time when ordination numbers have been declining. 

Palombi holds a Bachelor of Arts in Politics (University of Adelaide) and a Graduate Certificate in Arts (Writing) from Swinburne University.