Have your say in the Review of SRE
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 10:58
As featured in our latest CatechistNet magazine, if you would like to have your say in the Review of SRE you can follow the links below.
From this issue of CatechistNet:
As you are no doubt aware, the Special Religious Education (SRE) offered to the nearly 10,000 Catholic students in over 150 Government Schools is currently being reviewed by the Department of Education. My colleagues and I, in Dioceses around NSW-ACT have already commenced contributing to this review process and are confident of being able to accurately show what an amazing contribution that the Catholic Church via you, our incredible volunteers, make to Public Education through the delivery of SRE in New South Wales.
Special Religious Education is a marvellous feature of a robust, holistic education system. It offers formation in the chosen faith of the family for young people and in this way is a wonderful reflection of the cultural and religious diversity of our nation.
Some detractors of SRE would say that if people want formation in faith, they should receive it on weekends or after school. Such arguments are shallow and ignore the fact that this choice is one that truly contributes to a holistic education for students in NSW. Making similar assertions about the removal of sport from schools because it should be compartmentalised on weekends or for music or the creative arts, would quite rightly be regarded as nonsensical. All of these things contribute to a holistic education that benefits students, families and society more broadly.
Furthermore, as with sport, if a parent/guardian prefers their child not to attend, they can be exempted from the class. In these cases the school organises a productive activity such as private reading or a lesson in ethics.
As my colleague from Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, Mr John Donnelly wrote in a recent media article, ‘Could you imagine a school in Australia which did not have sport as part of the week for young students? Even though a multitude of sporting competitions and activities abound in the wider community, it appears that learning about and engaging in sport is highly valued in the education system.
Likewise, religious education has had a valued place in public education for over 100 years. Volunteers have been visiting state schools to deliver special religious education to the students of the various persuasions. The Catholic Church has been at the forefront of this community service for much of this time.’
It is for this reason that I would urge all of the Catechists in our Diocese, the parents and grandparents of the students we teach and other interested parties who value the contribution that the Church makes to Special Religious Education to ensure their voice is heard as part of the review process.
Currently there are over 4,500 catechists engaged in this service across NSW who see around 100,000 Catholic students each week. Like volunteers in so many different domains, such as Surf Life Saving, Sporting Fields, Charitable organisation and the like, Special Religious Education Volunteers are part of the character of our communities.
Obviously, it is not enough to just be well meaning and committed; a Special Religious Education (SRE) volunteer needs to be well trained and resourced. For decades, Catholic SRE volunteers have been formed via quality training and currently the NSW Bishops expectations for Catechists training far exceeds the minimum requirements of the Government and the Department of Education.
Furthermore, the curriculums have been developed in partnership with professional religious educators in Catholic schools and universities, to ensure we have highly effective curriculums, teacher manuals, student workbooks and resources, including now access to Electronic Whiteboard Resources.
There is so much to celebrate about what not only our Church, but other denominations and faiths contribute to Public Education through SRE. We hope the reviewers are given a very clear picture of what is being done well but also how this wonderful feature of Public Education can be enhanced. It is for this reason that I encourage Catechists, mums and dads, grandparents and anyone who wants to ensure that the review has a balanced picture of value of Special Religious
Education to have their say.
I encourage you to please take 10-15 minutes to answer some survey questions by going to one of the links ABOVE. Alternatively, fill in the form provided as an insert in this edition of Catechist Net and return it to Mrs Jennifer Raposio, Office of the Bishop, PO Box 1239 Wollongong NSW 2500.
Mr Jude Hennessy
Director of CCD
Diocese of Wollongong
Winter Retreat Summary 2014
- Last Updated on Sunday, 09 November 2014 20:23
- Marilyn Ng,
We searched high and low for a suitable facilitator because you deserve the best! We have had some cracking facilitators in the past however the experience of not only being refreshed but adding another dimension to our approach to prayer proved to be invaluable.
The day was led magnificently by retreat facilitators Frances Tilly, who specialises in the Ignatian method of spirituality. The day was incredibly uplifting for the participants but also for Frances herself who was equally touched by being involved. “I really enjoyed the experience and I felt uplifted by the catechists and their generous cheerful spirit. The gifts were in all directions I think”, Frances shared with us after the day.
The Ignatian method Frances introduced included the simple steps of preparing ourselves through a simple gesture of reverence and reading the prayer/scripture texts, asking for a particular Grace and desire, spending time in prayer being still with God, and finally a short time of conversation with God. As we progressed through these steps we were invited to listen and note any movement in our ‘listening books’, this being the link that brings it all together.
Another important aspect of the day was the 5 steps of the Examen: Giving thanks, reviewing the day (what gave you life and what challenged or upset you), responding and asking God for what you need and finally, resolving to seek healing and wholeness through an action.
My sincere hope is that you have had a chance to ‘practice’ this method of prayer and maybe even teach it to your students in a very simple way! May you continue to feel God’s loving presence in your life and be blessed with a deep joy!
Faith Education Officer
A partnership that will be sadly missed
- Last Updated on Sunday, 09 November 2014 20:31
- Marilyn Ng,
Lynne Harrison and her mum Sandra Dickerson shared their mother/daughter bond in a unique way through their ministry as a Catechist team.
Lynne has been a Catechist in our Parish of St Paul’s Albion Park for many years. About 10 year ago, Lynne invited her mum to assist in her classes and together they became a very well respected partnership.
Sadly, Sandra passed away unexpectedly in May and we farewelled our dear friend in a beautiful requiem Mass celebrated by Father David Catterall.
Sandra has a strong belief in Guardian Angels and her grandchildren believe she is now looking over them as their personal Guardian Angel in Heaven. In this way we also feel that Sandra’s presence will continue in our Parish Catechist ministry. It is somewhat comforting to know that Sandra’s took great joy in sharing her faith with so many children in the public schools of our Parish.
Our dear friend, Sandra, will be very sadly missed by many of us. May she rest in peace.
Written by Rowena Sanderson
Catechist Coordinator, St Paul’s Albion Park