The national conference of the Australian Catholic Students Association starts this Friday, and it’s not too late to register.

The keynote speaker at this year’s conference is Fr Aidan Nichols OP, a world-class theologian and author whose Shape of Catholic Theology I recommend as the introduction to theology for beginners.

Other speakers include Kevin Andrews, a Catholic MP who introduced the private members’ bill which rescinded the Northern Territory’s euthanasia legislation. He will speak on the defence of human dignity in the political and cultural realms.

Also not to be missed is Prof Tracey Rowland, who has earned herself new notoriety in the current edition of The Tablet. She will speak on the theology of culture, which is at the heart of her critique of post-conciliar reforms.

I was heavily involved with ACSA in my university days, though back then it was called the International Movement of Catholics Students Australia (IMCSA). I got involved at a low ebb in the organisation’s history, and the IMCSA was in very real danger of shutting down. We built it up again by focusing on the spiritual formation of members and organising conferences intended to revive Catholic intellectual life in Australian universities.

Ten years later, those early successes have been consolidated, allowing ACSA to broaden its appeal. A gala ball and a State of Origin footy rugby match (wouldn’t have happened in my day!!) are now permanent fixtures in the conference agenda.

I would highly recommend the conference to anyone at university, whether they’re Catholic or not. ACSA Conferences aren’t tent revival meetings — they’re a place to challenge ideas and be challenged by ideas; a place to meet other students who are serious about changing the world; and a place to have fun. (Foreign football codes notwithstanding.)

If you know anyone who is at university, send them this link. If they end up going, they’ll probably thank you for it!