2017 Scholars

Vaughan Park Residential Scholars

March – May

Kathleen Rushton RSM (Aotearoa)

I am a member of Nga Whaea Atawhai Sisters of Mercy and live in Otautahi Christchurch
where I have spent most of my adult life. My rural upbringing on a South Canterbury hill country farm in sight of the Southern Alps has influenced my life profoundly.

I have worked as a secondary teacher and in youth ministry. In mid-life, I studied at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the Brisbane College of Theology. I was awarded my PhD in John’s gospel by Griffith University in 2000. I teach Scripture for The Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand contracted by the Christchurch Catholic Education Office. Previously, I tutored for the Ecumenical Institute of Distance Theological Studies.

I companion people in spiritual direction, convene a diocesan committee forming teams for parish Retreats in Daily Life, participate in a Christian Life Community and am consultor for Te Wairua Mahi: Forming Spiritual Directors in the Ignatian Tradition. Since 2010, I have served as a trustee of Marralomeda, a Christian community for people with intellectual disabilities.

The call of Sisters of Mercy nationally and internationally to integrate scripture and tradition with cosmology, ecology and science led to my research project on the Johannine Prologue as the 2011 Cardinal Hume Visiting Scholar at Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, Cambridge, UK. Since then, I have explored ways of using the eschatological cosmology of the Prologue as a framework to interpret the gospel which follows and the implications for spirituality and ecology today.

I delight in making sound biblical scholarship accessible and linking this to everyday faith and spirituality. For example, I write a monthly reflection on the Sunday Lectionary gospels in Tui Motu InterIslands (www.tuimotu.org). At Vaughan Park, I shall work on writing an accessible book in which I shall reshape my eschatological, cosmological framework to explore the interconnected biblical relationships which influenced Jesus’ relationship with God, with land and the people. These relationships resonate with the Maori understanding of whakawhanaungatanga/making right relationship happen with Atua/God, tangata/people and whenua/land.

An article from Tui Motu website under Scripture written by Kathleen Rushton while on her Scholarship at Vaughan Park:  http://www.tuimotu.org/

July – September

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Laufer (Australia)

I grew up in Sydney, the daughter of Hungarian Holocaust survivors. I was baptised as an infant as 'protection' against future genocide and came to own Christian faith at an Anglican school.

I studied psychology at university and worked with intellectually disabled and highly gifted children. I spent fourteen months living and working in Jerusalem before marrying my American husband in 1981. We lived in California for a year before moving to Melbourne where we planned to start a family. Sadly, this was not to be; we were unable to have children. I became a lecturer in psychology at Australian Catholic University where I worked for 15 years.

My husband was killed in a road accident in October, 1990. I had begun studying theology earlier that year and found class to be a place of refuge and strength in the midst of deep grief. My vocation to ordained ministry grew out of this experience.

At Vaughan Park, I will be working on a book of narrative theology, that is, stories which explore theological truths. Narrative theology is far more than story telling; it not only illustrates dogma but also teaches theological concepts. This is what Jesus did in his parables, using a story to communicate deep truths.

Narrative theology is an alternative means of proclaiming the gospel in a medium that is accessible to all – clergy looking for sermon illustrations, Christians who do not read theological tomes and the unchurched seeking to know something of faith. My long term goal is a collection of about twenty stories, each illustrating Christian doctrine. I hope that, in my three months at Vaughan Park, I will be able to complete half to two thirds of the collection.


The Rev. Dr. Catherine Laufer and Bishop Bosco Puthur, Eparch of the Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle, Melbourne which covers all Australia and New Zealand. 
“Bp Bosco invited me to their liturgy.  It was stunning! – chanted in Malayalam.”

11th September 2017
The Syro Malabar Catholic Mission, NZ

Vaughan Park Anglican Retreat Centre Chapel – Ruatara