The Melbourne Catholic Professionals (MCP) Luncheon is an event designed to draw together Catholic professional men and women from around Melbourne to network, share their faith, listen to exceptional speakers and enjoy a meal together. According to MCP member and Melbourne barrister Jakub Patela, it is also a great reminder of how many people of faith exist in the business world.
The last luncheon, the first of three planned for the year, drew more than 200 people to the Park Hyatt to listen to Associate Professor Natasha Michael, Director of Palliative Care at Cabrini Health. Professor Michael, originally from Malaysia, shared some of her own journey of faith and work, and encouraged those gathered to surround themselves with ‘greatness of mind, greatness of heart, greatness of spirit’.
The second luncheon of the year, on Thursday 17 August, will feature Dr Edward Simons, Executive Director of Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools, as guest speaker.
Jakub has been a barrister for 14 months, practising in tax, commercial and public law, as well as being a reporter for the Commonwealth Law Reports. He heard about the MCP Luncheon through his own network of lawyers, the Melbourne Catholic Lawyers’ Association, who also organise several events throughout the year. He has attended two so far and found them edifying and positive experiences.
As someone who grew up in a fairly weak ‘culturally Catholic’ environment, Jakub’s journey back to the faith involved a heavy engagement with the theological and philosophical parts of the tradition.
‘Everyone’s had their own journey to the faith, and every time you hear someone else’s journey, it’s always interesting,’ he says of Professor Michaels’ talk back in May.
Meeting new people is always a bonus too. ‘The luncheons have served as excellent opportunities to meet and share experiences with other Catholic professionals who I wouldn’t have met in my day-to-day work,’ he says.
Jakub notes this practice is already quite common in the professional world. A number of different groups have their own networking associations, providing opportunities to support other like-minded people in their careers. Jakub has been particularly inspired by the Jewish community in Melbourne and how close-knit their professional networks are.
‘That is something practising Catholics in Melbourne need to aspire to as well,’ he thinks. Not only for professional support, but because it’s uplifting to know just how many people of faith are out there.
The luncheons are a great way to meet other Catholic professionals in Melbourne and, more importantly, as a reminder that there remain many people of faith in Melbourne’s business and professional community. That is particularly important when, as I see it, cultural and moral shifts make it harder to identify as a practising Catholic at work.