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Media Releases - July 3 2015

Media Release

DEC amends Public School enrolment form

The Inter Church Commission on Religious Education in Schools (ICCOREIS) commends the Minister for Education for moving to amend the enrolment form for Public Schools to ensure that the form properly represents the legislation, policy and procedures related to Special Religious Education (SRE) and remove confusion for parents arising from the current enrolment form.

The proposed amendments to the enrolment form, used alongside the SRE Participation letter, are ones that have arisen from consultation with SRE providers across all major faith traditions to ensure a clear choice for parents to select either SRE or the non-SRE options for their children.

SRE is a strength of Public Education in NSW where trained, authorised teachers use approved curriculums. ICCOREIS recognises the paramount importance of the right of parental choice. While SRE is not compulsory, it represents a valuable choice open to families in
our multi-faith society.

Students not attending SRE may attend non-SRE, which includes amongst other options Special Education in Ethics (SEE) offered at a local level in some primary schools.

SRE forms students in the beliefs and ethical systems of their family’s faith tradition.

For more information, please contact Mr Murray Norman (0409 652 984).

Peter Adamson
Deputy Chairperson
ICCOREIS

Download Media Release

MEDIA RELEASE

Statement for DoE website & Media Holding statement re change to DoE student enrolment form

Change to student enrolment form

The Department of Education is amending the student enrolment form for NSW public schools.

The amendments take into account legal advice, ensure consistency with the Government’s position on this matter and address concerns with clarity.

The amended form includes references to both Special Religious Education and Special Education in Ethics.

Options for student participation in Special Religious Education and Special Education in Ethics vary from school to school.

Specific advice about these options is available from school principals.

The updated enrolment form will be made available to schools as soon as practicable.

End

 

Ethics, Poles, Wires and the Dalai Lama

An Opinion Piece by Jude Hennessy (Director SRE, Diocese of Wollongong)

Ethics, Poles, Wires and the Dalai Lama
Will someone please tell the truth about Special Education in Ethics (SEE) and the NSW Public School enrolment form? It seems the only people getting any airplay, have a good public profile, but little knowledge about the topic.

Even the Dalai Lama got drawn into it last week. He’s a good man, a man of peace, poise, wisdom and love. As a Catholic, I’m a fan, just as many non-Catholics are fans of Pope Francis. But I wouldn’t ask either of them to fix my computer. No disrespect to them, I just doubt they’d have the knowledge to be able to do it.

In the same way, I’m not sure why the Dalai Lama was asked about the current furore about Ethics and the enrolment form. But then it dawned on me, the light bulb went off, well it got brighter anyhow! This isn’t about facts, or asking people who might actually have some knowledge or something sensible to say, it’s about world views, politics and a powerful little club in some mainstream print and electronic media who seem hell bent on doing away with religion in schools. If they can do that, then they can focus on getting rid of religion completely in the ugly little Orwellian world they are attempting to manufacture.

Soon after I saw the Dalai Lama hooked into the debate, I got an email from NSW Labor asking for donations to fight the good fight for ethics in NSW schools. Apparently they need funds to fight the great injustice being perpetrated on SEE by those nasty religions and the NSW Government. What a load of absolute rubbish, but no one else is saying so in this fantasy land.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, such is the misinformation being thrown around at will. Probably the latter. Why? Because SRE, this wonderful strength of NSW public schools is being denigrated and used as a political and media football. Why else? Because in our multicultural, multi-faith (and non-faith) society, SRE and SEE both have a valuable and valid place. Who would want to undermine access to clear choice for parents to have their Children formed in the faith and ethics of their family? Hopefully no one, but in relation to SEE, a simple fact is getting left out, you shouldn’t offer something that isn’t available.

Some facts about SRE and SEE
No parent in NSW who wants their child to do SEE in NSW is being denied that choice for their children, if it is offered in their local school. SEE is well advertised as an option for those who opt out of SRE classes.

Nevertheless, it is pointless to offer something on the enrolment form which isn’t available. I’d be annoyed if I was for example offered woodwork and then was informed, no sorry, we don’t offer woodwork. My simple response would be, ‘well why did you offer it to me’?

Herein lies one of the problems with Ethics classes and why it needs to be removed as a tick option from the enrolment form.


In 2014, SEE was offered in 256 of the 2100 Public Schools in NSW. It is not offered at all in Secondary Schools. Around 800 SEE teachers saw 16,000 students. They are doing a good job for our community and public Education, and I for one am glad they have a presence in a growing number of schools. By comparison, SRE Providers have a presence in most schools and see around 240,000 students a week and that figure increases to over 300,000 when you include seminar style delivery of lessons.

The reality for SEE is that it is not in at least 1800 of the 2100 Public Schools. Parents whose sons and daughters go to those 1800 schools are nevertheless being offered it, only to find that it doesn’t exist. Now that’s just bizarre, and extremely misleading for parents, many of whom then need to negotiate a maze to get reoffered SRE.

What’s even more bizarre is that the DEC’s own consultative committee for SRE, made up of representatives of all the major faiths, were not consulted about the final changes to the enrolment form. Surely that’s what consultative committees are for! If it had been consulted, this debacle would never have ensued.

SRE providers quickly recognised that this was a very questionable change that ignored the Legislation, the 2012 SEE Parliamentary Inquiry Recommendations, the SRE Policy and the SRE Implementation guidelines. I assume that Primary Ethics would similarly be concerned that roughly 680,000 young people who they can’t cater for, are being offered SEE classes. I am unaware if Primary Ethics had any input into the enrolment form, but faith groups certainly were not given the opportunity to explain the consequences of the changes. Media commentators do not seem keen to ask questions about this lack of process, which is in itself very interesting.

Finally, this is not about poles and wires. To suggest so is an offensive lie. SRE providers have been talking to each other, the DEC, to the Minister, and Politicians across the political divide about this since the new form appeared last June. Agreement on the need for the confusion to end via a repaired enrolment form was reached in December 2014 with the Department.

Some non-facts about SRE and SEE
I won’t say lies, because perhaps those who are writing most of the rubbish about SRE and Ethics have simply fallen into the trap that some of my former History students used to, not doing any study! Sure they’re good at churning out articles expounding their personal views, but like some former students, their essays and reports are still ‘a fail’ when they have such little basis in fact. 

Firstly, SEE doesn’t exist to compete with SRE. Primary Ethics was established to cater for students who opted out of SRE. Therefore, regardless of the fact that it simply isn’t offered in most schools, it should not be set up alongside SRE on a form. Once parents have opted out of SRE they are then given the choice of SEE if it is available at a local level where it is well advertised.

Secondly, SRE does not regard SEE as the enemy or a threat. SEE teachers are good people offering a valid and valuable alternative to non-scripture in a small but growing number of schools.

Finally, SRE is not struggling as per Dr John Kaye’s (Greens NSW) recent and ongoing venomous assertions and misinformation regarding SRE. The 12,000 multi faith, well trained, well-resourced volunteers across the State are doing a mighty job forming students in the teachings and ethics of their family’s faith tradition, seeing well over 240,000 students a week in the process.

So what are SRE providers asking for?
A return to an enrolment form that removes the misinformation and confusion.

A form that doesn’t offer something to parents who then later find out that it is not available at most schools.

A form that gives the parents the option to choose Religious Education and, just as importantly, to opt out of that choice. SEE can then be offered at a local level if it is available.

This isn’t about poles and wires, this is about giving parents correct information and valid choices for their children. Whilst it is tough to get correct information out there via the media, thank goodness the NSW Government and DEC are at least now trying to get it right on the public school enrolment form.


Mr Jude Hennessy
Director SRE
Diocese of Wollongong
12 June 2015



Media Release - June 2 2015

 Important Media Release from ICCOREIS
(Inter-Church Commission on Religious Education in Schools (NSW) Inc

3 June 2015

Amendments to the Enrolment Form for Schools

The changes to the NSW DEC enrolment form that occurred in July 2014, have unfortunately caused confusion for parents with regard to Special Religious Education (SRE) and non SRE options in schools.

The Inter Church Commission on Religious Education in Schools (ICCOREIS) has always recognised that parental choice is critical in the selection of SRE or the non SRE options, being Special Ethics Education (SEE) or other supervised activities.

As such, ICCOREIS member Churches, along with representatives of the major faiths who provide SRE, have consulted with each other, the DEC, and all sides of politics to recommend modifications that provide real clarity and help parents to make informed choices.

We are grateful to the DEC for moving to rectify the issues with the enrolment form. This recognises the place of SRE as a strength of Public Education in our multi-faith and multi-cultural society, whilst continuing to provide clear choices and understanding for parents of non-SRE options available in schools at a local level.

The changes being proposed for the enrolment form and associated documents for schools and parents will ensure effective communication and implementation of SRE and non-SRE options.

SEE is only available in some primary schools; it is not available in high schools. Therefore, the removal of SEE from the enrolment form reflects the place of SEE as a non SRE option.

In schools where SEE might be available, parents will be easily able to make that choice after opting out of SRE.

Mr. Neville Cox
ICCOREIS Chairperson
0416 294 742

link to original release - here

Have your say in the Review of SRE

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

A partnership that will be sadly missed

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.

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Written by Rowena Sanderson
Catechist Coordinator, St Paul’s Albion Park 

Secondary Student SRE Ministry Update

 

I have now been in my role as a Secondary SRE Assistant for 3 months. In that time, I have been shown the ropes and have been introduced to many of you; it’s great to be able to put a name to a face. If I haven’t had the chance to introduce myself to you personally, I hope that in the second half of the year there will be opportunity to do so.

As a Secondary Assistant, one aspect of my role is to support the Student Catechists in their learning and development. I have made visits to most Primary Schools where Student Catechists are present, observing and encouraging. Lunch time visits to Year 10 students at their school provided valuable feedback, giving honest insight, suggestions and opnions.

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One of the challenges Student Catechists’ face, as with new adult Catechists, is that even the best and most in-depth training fall short of fully preparing them for what they will experience in the classroom! Despite this, students enjoy being a Catechist, they love being around the children and they get a lot of joy in being able to serve in that way. Students also articulated their desire to take on bigger tasks and responsibilities and to use their skills taught in training and gifts they have as young people... their enthusiasm is to be celebrated!

My hope is to encourage more involvement of Student Catechists working in partnership with experience Catechists as mentors. At the end of the day, it is our repsonsibiliyt to raise and nuture the next generation to be strong in faith, knowing the joy of the Good News, and eager to share it with those around them. Let’s pray that through our witness many may come to know the Joy of the Gospel!

God bless,
Evie

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Written by Evelyn Cisneros
Secondary SRE Assistant
CCD Wollongong 

 

Caring for your Garden

Your mind is a garden; thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.

Our thoughts are powerful things. One of the greatest and mysterious gifts we have been given! Yes, they have the potential to affect the altitude of your attitude and our actions. What kind of garden are you growing?

I have heard that we spend 1/5th of our lives talking and have approximately 30 conversations per day. We also talk to ourselves. Have you ever stopped and really listened to your thoughts? Here’s an activity… take 5mins, 30mins, half a day jotting down all the thoughts that fly through the space between your ears and once done, examine them closely. Are they positive, negative or neutral? What do they focus on most? What are the key themes if you like? Is it your emotions, actions, tasks, family or work? Are they focused on judgements or affirmations of self and others?

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With God’s help it is possible to clean up our thoughts and when we do it has significant impact not only on ourselves, but all those whom we encounter. Just like a small child who has sticky hands leaves a residue on everything they touch, so too negative thoughts on our lives, experiences and relationships. We are created for much more than this!

Try taking 3 questions or statements you have jotted down and changing them into better questions or frame of thought. For example.. I wish I didn’t have to go to work today INTO how can I be present at work and enjoy the moment? Or why does this always happen to me INTO what is God or life trying to say to me through this experience? What can I be open to learning?

If you ask yourself a question your brain instinctively comes up with an answer… ask a better question, get a better answer! Have some fun today with your thoughts… what kind of garden are you growing?

From Trish’s regular radio spot on The Journey, Milk & Honey. You can listen to Trish (and more!) each week on Sundays 11am by tuning in your radio to Pulse 94.1FM or going to radio.dow.org.au

Written by
Trish McCarthy
Faith Education Officer
Macarthur-Highlands Region 

3 Important Reminders for all Catechists

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1. Hot button Issues

It can be very easy to get caught up in a lesson talking about contentious current issues. Quite often these issues are outside the scope of the lesson at hand, are not age appropriate or they enter into areas that fall into the role parenting decisions. It is not our job in an SRE lesson to talk about such issues as abortion, contraception, suicide, same-sex marriage or other such topics. If such topics come up, gently remind the students about the lesson you are currently teaching and say that, whilst it’s a good question, that’s not what we are learning about today. It’s better to say no now than to find yourself in a tricky situation later.

2. Respect the privacy and dignity of our children

As Catechists, we must never speak about a student’s private life or issues with other people unless it is for the purpose of reporting a Child Protection concern. Likewise, it would certainly be never appropriate to openly talk about a student’s medical condition unless you have spoken with the classroom teacher or the parents of the student first (e.g. a student may have cancer and the parents may be ok with your class praying for them). Finally, we should never speak negatively about a student’s character, especially when they are not present.

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3. Only use the approved curriculum

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As representatives of Bishop Peter and approved teachers for the Dioceses of Wollongong, we carry a responsibility to teach the faith of the Catholic Church as described in the approved curriculum. As an SRE provider, it is a Government requirement that our teachers are instructing students from an approved curriculum. As you would be aware, the only curriculum you are allowed to teach from the Diocese of Wollongong is Christ Our Light and Life (with the exception of multi-stage and/or joint denominational classes – these are approved on a case by case basis).

Written by
Peter Gilmore
Faith Education Officer
Illawarra-Shoalhaven Region

 

Winter Retreat Summary 2014

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!

Written by
Trish McCarthy
Faith Education Officer
Macarthur-Highlands Region 

Message from the Director [Vol 12, 2]

 

At every opportunity, I endeavour to remind Catechists in the Dioceses of Wollongong of the way that their work contributes to the mission of the Church and the command of Jesus to share the life giving message of the Gospel. 

I thought it necessary at this point in the year to affirm Catechists for the wonderful contribution they make not only to the Church, but just as significantly to the public education and society. Every Child in these classes in a state school is there because their parents have chosen to have them formed in the faith of their family. The close to 100,000 Catholic students and the 220,000 students overall who attend Special Religious Education (SRE) each week in New South Wales, do not have to be there, it is not compulsory, but is obviously highly valued.

 

Catechists/SRE teachers are trusted not only by the Church but by these parents and the Government to form young people in the faith tradition of their family. These parents want their sons and daughters to be formed in the knowledge of the Gospel. In doing so, SRE teachers nurture in young people a sense of God’s love, an understanding of Jesus’ call for us to live a life that hinges on forgiveness, and enable them to be formed in a way of thinking that is based on justice in our dealings with others.

It is for this reason that many catechists have been disappointed by a series of recent reports in the media which have failed to give a realistic impression about the significant contribution that SRE teachers make to the Public Education in New South Wales. Whatever the aim of this style of reporting, one thing is for certain, it is not in the best interest of the children who benefit from the good formation in the faith of their family or for parents who rightly value SRE as a choice that is a strength of Public Education.

The broad generalisation made in the recent media reports unfortunately have not presented the reality of the quality of SRE teaching in NSW. Furthermore the reports have ignored that SRE teachers in NSW, and in particular the Catechists in our own Catholic Church, are well trained, resourced and use quality curriculums.

 

The reports have also ignored the undeniable fact that young people who are formed in faith and spirituality are being exposed to something that is good for them. Measures of so many personal and social indicators of personal health and wellbeing highlight that young people who have good formation in faith and spirituality, are thriving.

SRE in NSW should be promoted as a strength of Public Education and not pulled down by the style of some recent media reports to have been inaccurate and unbalanced. I really hope that SRE teachers, across all faiths and denominations in NSW, have not been overly discouraged by some of the things they may have encountered in the media. Rather, be affirmed in the knowledge that what you do in the service of parents and families in providing the choice of SRE and its formation in the faith of their family, is inspiring and makes a difference. Furthermore, pelase be assured that the Catholic Conference of Religious Educators (CCRESS) and Bishop Peter A Comensoli who has carriage of this ministry on behalf of NSW Bishops, are at every turn ensuring that what you do is well represented with the Education Department and Government. I am in no doubt that the hundreds of thousands of parents who value the choice of SRE, and the students who attend your classes, are appreciative of the contribution you make to Public Education in our multicultural, multi faith society. May our Lord Jesus bless your efforts abundantly.

Mr Jude Hennessy
Diocesan Director
CCD Wollongong 

 

New Resources at Micah House

Great new resources available for Catechists

With the generous help of Maureen Crosland (Campbelltown Catechist), we have been rejuvenating the resources available here at Micah House. We now have a list of the books, DVD’s and music available that relate directly to the resources suggested in the COLAL Manuals and we’re working hard to fulfil the list. There are new “St Joseph’s” books, as well as Audio-Visual and Creative ideas to assist in your lesson plans.

We are always happy to see your smiling faces and willing to help you. The Resource Centre is open Monday – Thursday, 9am to 3pm and you are ALWAYS welcome to stay for Coffee/Tea and Biscuits. Don’t delay! Come in and see what we can do for you.

Written by Cindy Oliver
CCD Clerical Assistant
Regional Resource Centre

New Addition to the CCD Team

More support for Secondary School initiatives

I’m really pleased to be able to welcome Miss Evelyn Cisneros to the CCD Team in the Diocese of Wollongong for 2014.

‘Evie’ has been employed to work casually for around 10 hours per week as a Secondary SRE assistant. She will be based at Micah House in Campbelltown, but will work in a number of schools across the Diocese.

We are really grateful to the Campbelltown Catholic Club, a big supporter of Catechists, for funding the position for Evie for the next 12 months. The Catholic Club have been very impressed by the possibilities that were opening up with expansion into Government Secondary Schools and the number of Catholic Secondary School Students who want to be involved in the work of Parish Catechists and thus, offered to make this funding available.

Evie will therefore be working closely with Trish McCarthy and Peter Gilmore to assist with the recruitment, training and organisation of the growing number of Catholic High School students who are contributing to the work of CCD as Student Catechists and further helping to deliver the SRE seminars in a number of Government Secondary Schools.

Evie comes to the role with a passion for Youth Ministry, having previously served four years as a volunteer and manager with Youth Mission Team Australia which included the facilitation of workshops, seminars, retreats and conferences in both catholic and state high schools. She has experience as a youth minister in the Parramatta Diocese.

I am sure you will join with me in welcoming Evie as she commences this exciting role with CCD.

Written by Jude Hennessy 
Diocesan Director
CCD Wollongong

Record numbers attending Catechist Training!

Despite the busyness faced by so many in our twenty-first century lives, people are continuing to vote with their feet by turning up to CCD training around the Diocese in record numbers.

Never before has the demand on our time been so great. Whether it’s work, family, study, personal, community or Church commitments, it certainly is the exception to have a free day. It is because of this reality that we are continually pleasantly surprised and grateful to see Catechists, new recruits and seasoned veterans, turning up in droves to the training offered.

With the approach of the review into SRE by the NSW Government, Catechists have met new demands for ongoing training with enthusiasm and joy. Our Level 1 Catechist training commences with Child Protection and Classroom Management and we were pushed to our seating capacity! Over 100 Catechists enrolled and attended around the Dioceses. We never want to place more demands on Catechist’s time than are necessary and so such a positive response is always a massive encouragement for us.

Level 1 Catechist Training, offered in full at the Xavier Conference Centre in Wollongong and Micah House in Campbelltown, finished in the last month and the truckload of certificates and awards have been sent to attendees. A big congratulations to all those who have completed the course!

We now look forward eagerly to Level 2 Training which will be commencing mid-July (see details below) at the same locations. Level 2 presents a perfect mix of the practical and the theological and, if previous attendees can be trusted (and they can), it is certainly worth your time.

Please contact Cindy on 4640 8550 to book in for any of the courses we have on offer!

Written by Peter Gilmore
Faith Education Officer
Illawarra-Shoalhaven Region

CCD Purchases Music Resource for Parishes

Throughout our training courses, many of you would have been exposed to the wonderful music of Two by 2. Their music is age appropriate and contemporary with a simple yet powerful Gospel message.

The musicians of Two by 2 kindly granted the rights to their music to be used on our COLAL Smartboard resource. In support of their generosity and great work, CCD have recently purchased and sent to each parish copies of Two by 2’s music in CD format to be available for everyone, in particular those who may not have access to SmartBoards in their classroom. 

We warmly encourage you to make use of this resource and add to the wonderful message you are living and proclaiming amongst our young people. You can find out more about Two by 2 at their website @ www.twoby2.com

Written by Trish McCarthy
Faith Education Officer
Macarthur-Highlands Region

Message from the Director

I’d like to thank all of our experienced catechists for putting their hand up to be involved in delivering Special Religious Education (SRE) for Catholic families and students in Government Schools again this year. Thank you also, to the many new Catechists who have joined our ranks. We have been really pleased with the number of Catechists who have commenced in the ministry in 2014, with around 50 completing training in Wollongong, Campbelltown and Nowra. It has been wonderful to meet our new Catechists as they completed training throughout the term, and great to catch up with so many of you who attended the refresher courses for both Child Protection and Classroom Management in various locations around the Diocese.

The 2013 statistics of our coverage of SRE in Government Schools for our region were truly encouraging. The advent of Primary Ethics classes has had essentially no impact on the number of students who attend Catholic SRE in 142 Government Schools in our Diocese, and in 2013 our Catechists continued to see around 10,000 students each week. Just as pleasing has been a jump in the number of active Catechists. In the last 18 months we have seen a jump of just over 100 new active Catechists, with around 570 Catechists involved in this work weekly. That figure includes around 50 student Catechists from our Catholic Secondary Schools, who are working alongside our Parish Catechists. The number of Catholic Secondary Schools and students who want to get involved in this program of supporting your work is really exciting and CCD Wollongong looks forward to further growth in 2014-15 of this program.

At the start of the year, I briefed Parish Catechist Coordinators about the review of SRE that will be conducted by the Department of Education from September 2014. This is an opportunity for the Catholic Church as the major provider of SRE across NSW, to highlight the contribution Catechists make to families in NSW, by giving their sons and daughters access to Religious Education. It is a chance to highlight the wonderful contribution you make to the lives and holistic development of young people in Public Education. Importantly, providers of SRE would also hope to be given direction from this review, about how the delivery of SRE can be made even better.

No doubt, there will be those who will push for the removal of SRE from Public Education as part of this review. However, In the midst of that push, which is sure to be given significant media coverage, please be assured that the contribution you make to Public Education and Families who choose SRE is highly valued. Most importantly, do not underestimate the incredible impact you have on the lives of young people by giving them knowledge and understanding of the Gospel, the Church and the person of Jesus with whom they are drawn into relationship.

Prayer is powerful. Prayer makes a difference and allows grace to enter into difficult situations. Confident of this, I would ask each of our current and former Catechists, to continue to pray for the work of Catechists and for those who will represent the Church in this review of This is another jam packed issue of Catechist Net. There is much to be celebrated. I would ask that you take particular note of the process for obtaining and passing on to us your new Working SRE, throughout 2014. with Children Check number, that we are requiring every Catechist can now apply for. There are also some fantastic opportunities for formation and training coming up, with John Burland Music in-services and mid- year Catechist Retreat days. I look forward to seeing many of you at these days.

God bless,

Mr Jude Hennessy
Diocesan Director
CCD Wollongong

Resource Centre Move

A quick update on the Diocesan Resource Centre’s move from Bellambi to Wollongong

As outlined in the last edition of the CatechistNet, the Resource Centre at Bellambi was shutting for a short period to allow a move to the new Diocesan Offices, the Xavier Centre, 38 Harbour St Wollongong. Anne Russell and her team of helpers have been working hard and are now located in the new Diocesan Resource Centre. Catechists are encouraged to drop in at the new facility to have a look around the new Resource Centre which adjoins the Cathedral Books & Gifts shop. There is plenty of parking off Harbour Street and the entrance to the Shop and Resource centre is off Crown Street.

Secondary School Update

The Catholic Secondary Schools program has been expanded this year to include Holy Spirit College and St Joseph’s Albion Park.

We have completed training in a total of 5 schools with 60 students obtaining their certificate. Catechists Coordinators have been a vital figure within each High School and their leadership and efforts to make it happen have been commendable.

We are currently writing a prospectus for the program which captures the essence and vision for such a venture which will be made available to all those interested in supporting the program in the future. It truly is a unique response to the Church’s call and mission of Evangelisation, in particular linking School and Parish. It is an avenue which has never been explored in the history of our Church and the Pilot Program is giving us good in­sights into how we can ensure future success in more schools.

One of the highlights of the program is the relationship of discipleship between catechists’ and Secondary Students. This

notion was at the very heart of Christ’s minis­try, in fact being the first thing He did. He called the twelve into a unique relationship with Himself, walking closely with them, teaching them the way of Love and way of the

Kingdom. This too is a link that although present in our current climate, has not always been at the forefront of Parish vision. It is with great hope and expectation that we ignite this program and “view young people not as empty bottles to be filled, but as candles to be lit”.

Holy Land Pilgrimage

 

Excited Catechists prepare to tour the Holy Lands

24 September - 14 October, 2013

Catechists from the Diocese of Wollongong and Parramatta are excitedly preparing to tour the Holy Land. This is part of a study tour that will nurture Catechists in their knowledge of the faith, deepen their spirituality and enhance their knowledge and skills as a Catechist. Interest in the trip has already been very strong with very limited spots remaining for Catechists and their spouses from Wollongong and other Dioceses.

The trip will run from 24 September to 14 October 2013. Harvest Pilgrimages is

putting together the tour for Catechists called the Exodus Journey. The 21-Day Biblical pilgrimage from Cairo to Jerusalem will take place in the lands that Moses and Jesus walked. The cost of $7000 (twin share) includes airfares, coach travel,

accommodation and meals. Bishop Peter Ingham will join Catechists on the journey, with the group celebrating daily Mass in spectacular historic locations.

If you are considering claiming one of the remaining spots, please contact Joanne Morgan soon at Harvest Pilgrimages on 9390 5460 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2012 Catechist Mass & Awards

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough” remarked German theologian Meister Eckhart in the middle ages. Gratitude and thankfulness were indeed the premise for the Annual Catechist Mass for 2012. Seldom have I have met a group of people so determined to give and give that when the time comes for someone to acknowledge their hard work, their response is almost as beautiful as the hard work itself - a mixture of sincere bashfulness and embarrasment. 
 
Catechists are a humble group of people. They give more than they ever expect inreturn and we are so grateful for them. It is in full knowledge of this that we prepare our Annual Catechist Mass. This isn’t a chance to puff out our chest or say “look how well we are doing”. This is the day when we honour you, the Catechists of Diocese because you do something that is worth honouring. You do something that is worth celebrating and remembering.

Read more:

Employment Announcement - CCD Clerical Assistant

It is with pleasure that I announce the appointment of Mrs Cindy Oliver as the CCD Clerical Assistant based at CCD Resource Centre, Micah House Campbelltown, effective today, Monday 17 October 2011.

As the CCD Clerical Assistant, Cindy will provide secretarial and administrative support to the CCD Diocesan Director and Regional Faith Education Officers (FEO’s) and assist in the running of the Catechist Resource Centre.

Cindy Oliver comes to the position with significant experience in various clerical and secretarial roles. Further to this, Cindy has experience as a Catechist and brings to the role a good understanding how to appropriately help support Catechists in their work. Cindy will work from Mon-Thursday from 9am-3pm.

I have assured Cindy that she will be warmly welcomed by Clergy, Catechists and Staff of the Office of the Bishop, as she commences her role, supporting the Ministry of CCD. Cindy will attend our Morning Tea at 10am tomorrow in order to meet and be welcomed by the other members of the Office of the Bishop staff.

Regards,

Jude Hennessy
Diocesan Director
Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Wollongong

 

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