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Order of Malta Australia


Frà Richard Divall awarded doctorate with high distinction


Sir James Gobbo AC CVO KStJ QC , Kairos Catholic Journal, Tuesday 20 May 2014

ON Friday 2 May in an almost filled St Patrick’s Cathedral, toward 300 graduands received their degrees from the new University of Divinity. It was the first combined graduation and service of prayers and lessons that had taken place in the cathedral, and His Grace, Archbishop Denis Hart who presided, expressed his joy and satisfaction at this historic ecumenical and academic event taking place there. He welcomed in particular the presence of students and staff of the Egyptian Coptic Church and College, which was one of the nine different Colleges of Theology.
Of the seven Doctor of Philosophy degrees awarded, one was to our Professed Knight, Frà Richard Divall, who received a High Distinction, a rare level. The doctorate was undertaken in Melbourne’s Catholic Theological College, where two of our Order’s Magistral Chaplains hold positions, namely Mgr Terence Curtin and Fr Brian Boyle. The thesis was supervised by two eminent scholars. The first was Professor John Griffiths of Monash University and The University of Melbourne, an authority on Spanish and French Renaissance music, and the world authority on the vihuela, the early Spanish guitar. The other supervisor was our own Subpriory Chaplain, Rev Professor Gerald O’Collins SJ AC, who during a career of 35 years at the Gregorian University in Rome, supervised over one hundred doctorates as well as writing seventy books on theology and scripture.

Frà Richard’s doctoral subject was a comprehensive detailed thesis and editions of 39 sacred works for voices and orchestra, composed for the Order of Malta for St John’s Conventual Church in Valletta, by Malta’s national composer Nicolò Isouard (1773-1818). All of the editions were based on unpublished manuscripts, newly found in France and Belgium. The reports from two international examiners praised the research, all from primary sources, as ground breaking, recognising its important contribution in this field of music and culture, concerning the history of our Order in eighteenth-century Malta.

A Mass was held at Newman College on Sunday 4 May, followed by a reception for Frà Richard’s many religious and academic colleagues, in the Oratory at the College, itself designed by Walter Burley Griffin. Eighty Members, colleagues from the college and from three universities attended including the Vice-Chancellor of Monash University, Professor Ed Byrne AC and Allan Myers AO and Maria Myers AO.

As  Regent of the Sub-Priory of the Immaculate Conception of the Order of Malta in Australia, I expressed warm congratulations to Frà Richard Divall AO and described the successful completion of the PhD as a spiritually enriching one as it brought together Frà Richard’s love of music, the spiritual enhancement of his vocation as a Professed Knight of Justice in the Order of Malta and his love of the Order and the island and people of Malta.

Dr Divall has long been a scholar of the history of Malta and gave a memorable address in 1981 to the National Assembly of the Order of Malta on the history of the Order. The Cathedral was a fitting venue for the Graduation as it was the place where Frà Richard was received into the Catholic faith in 1989 in the presence of Most Rev George Pell, Sister Fabian Elliot RSC AO, Sir James, Lady Gobbo and Dame Joan Hammond DBE.

Photos by John Casamento

The Australian Association

The Australian Association, formed in 1974, currently has in excess of 300 members and aspirant members across every State and Territory of Australia. We also have ongoing and strong links with the Order’s National Associations throughout the Asia Pacific Region including in Singapore and the Philippines and with members of the Order in New Zealand, Hong Kong SAR, Thailand and Korea. The Order of Malta is committed to serving Our Lords the Poor and Sick worldwide and has done so for over 900 years. This website shares with you the history, mission and current activities of the Order of Malta in Australia, and provides links to the work of the Order world-wide.