DR COLIN ONG, 34, a Singaporean doctor currently pursuing full time studies at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in Melbourne was awarded the institute’s George Cardinal Pell Prize for being the top student for the 2008-2009 semester. Dr Tracey Rowland, dean of the Institute, awarded the prize to Dr Ong at the Institute’s annual academic dinner.

Dr Ong, who decided to study fulltime for a Masters Degree in Bioethics at the Institute, shared that he felt “humbled and encouraged” at winning the prize. Some years ago, he was deeply touched by Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. His teaching, shares Dr Ong, “set me free in my masculinity and revolutionised my image of the Church. Hence, I wanted to know more about what the Catholic Church taught and found that the topics that I was interested in were available at the John Paul II institute in Melbourne.”

He went to Melbourne for full-time study in July last year. Dr Ong studied the theology of the body, bioethics, sexuality, moral theology and anthropology. He is hoping to complete a Master’s thesis exploring the role of the theological virtues in medical practice and to continue to serve the Church in these areas in the future.

Indeed, Dr Rowland, whom Dr Ong has taken classes with, shared that what makes him stand out is the fact that he brings a wealth of professional experience as a medical doctor to his study of bioethical issues. “Many bioethicists”, shared Dr Rowland, “lack the hands on clinical experience while many doctors lack the time and theological training to grasp the moral dimensions of their practices. Dr Ong however is working at the intersection of medical practice and bioethics. When he finally gets through all these studies, he will be a model Catholic doctor.”

By Nick Chui

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