Enhancing Catholic School Identity

Catholic Identity

Our society is a modern success blessed by an increased diversity of cultures and faiths that can only enrich the intellect and the heart. But this success story is also a work-in-progress that brings with it new challenges that impact on religious learning and Catholic identity.

 

How our Catholic Identity Team supports teachers and leaders in embracing this challenge is of utmost importance. How they guide students in finding purpose in their life in the light of the Catholic teachings is of utmost importance. How they engage students to integrate the traditions of the Catholic community into their daily life is of utmost importance.

 

Our work employs the following approaches:

 

 

All of the above is a collaboration of partners supporting the learning experience with and between schools in a new era of social diversity.

 

 

Initiatives

 

Beginning REL Induction 2017

Celebration of the work of Religious Education Leaders (RELs) in Catholic schools was a new initiative in 2017. It was launched on 2 March, at St John the Evangelist Church, East Melbourne, where Religious Education Leaders were invited to come together for an Induction Mass in their honour alongside their school principal and parish priest.

 

Following the Mass was a ‘Dinner and Dialogue’ soiree that included a panel discussion, led by Dr Paul Sharkey, comprised of parish priests, principals and Religious Education Leaders. Dialogue centred around the meaning and value of effective parish and school partnerships. It also led into a formation day at the Catholic Leadership Centre for RELs five days later, on 7 March. This successful and well-received initiative with 28 schools across the Archdiocese of Melbourne represents the beginning of a new initiative in enhancing Catholic identity in a modern society such as ours.

 

Enhancing Catholic School Identity Committee

A new format and new data was introduced as part of the Enhancing Catholic School Identity (ECSI) survey. This more succinct ECSI Standard Report (at no cost to the school) replaced both the Graphs Only Report and the lengthier ECSI Full Report. One of the features of this new approach included a range of ‘opt-in’ ECSI services that schools could choose to better enable them to strengthened Catholic identity.

 

Ninety-two Catholic primary and secondary schools across Victoria participated in the new ECSI Standard Report survey. Of those, five chose to purchase the ECSI Annotated Report. It is worth noting that the Australian Catholic University (ACU) and the University of Divinity are highly engaged and active in the Enhancing Catholic School Identity research project.

 

As such, three sponsored formation programs for principals were offered as part of the suite of ECSI programs:

 

 

New Online Resource for Parish Educators

Catechist Central, our new website, was launched in March 2017 to provide assistance and resources for parish educators involved in catechesis, children’s liturgy, sacramental and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults programs. The listing of suggested Sacramental resources are free to download, and include Year 1–6 Seeking to Live the Good News and the Preparing to Receive series.

 

The site provides further links to relevant Catholic Education Melbourne sites, Catholic agencies and universities, professional learning and formation opportunities, and resources for online prayer. Key dates for parish educator network meetings to join together as a community and support each other are also highlighted.

 

Building a Culture of Prayer

A vibrant culture of prayer, ritual and liturgy in our schools is a shared dedication of the school, the parish, the Church authority and Catholic Education Melbourne. This dedication was expressed in our 2017 Culture of Prayer report and realised with the opening of the new Chapel of St Francis at James Goold House. We have a wonderful program of weekly Masses led by staff groups who support and engage in the liturgy on a roster basis. We have also improved the look and feel of the Mass booklet to inspire and assist staff who participate.

 

At larger gatherings, all staff came together in Catholic prayer to set the tone of the day with reflection and celebration of Mass. This culture of prayer is a driving force throughout the liturgical seasons, cresting during Lent, when all staff are encouraged and supported to pray, fast, act for social justice and support Caritas’ Project Compassion.

 

Schools were also engaged in prayer directly by Catholic Education Melbourne during our annual Catholic Education Week Mass at St Patrick, as well as every other week of the year through our online resources of Liturgy Help, Daily Prayer (an instructive and formative ‘ready to use’ prayer script) and RESource. Another initiative was the Christian meditation and retreat days in the Western Region.

 

Accreditation and Sponsorship

In 2017, almost 800 applications for Accreditation to Teach in a Catholic School and Accreditation to Teach Religious Education in a Catholic School, and over 80% of applications were approved.

 

Accreditation Number of Applicants
Accreditation to Teach in a Catholic School 233
Accreditation to Teach Religious Education in a Catholic School 477

 

More specifically, 332 applications were received from schools, while another 113 applications from other institutions were submitted for In-Service Accreditation (as part of the completion of requirements of Policy 1.6 for Accreditation to Teach in a Catholic School).

 

During 2017, we sponsored 172 teachers to undertake studies in Religious Education and Master of Religious Education/Theology at one of three tertiary Catholic institutions — Australian Catholic University, Catholic Theological College, and Yarra Theological Union.

 

 

Religious Education Sponsorship Number of Accepted Applications
Primary Secondary Total
Sponsorship for studies towards Accreditation to Teach Religious Education in a Catholic School 121 27 148
Sponsorship for Further Studies in Theology and Religious Education 7 17 24

 

 

Professional learning

Activity / Course Participant Numbers
Primary Schools Secondary Schools P-10 / P-12 Schools Parish Educators / Other Total
Engaging in Prayer – 3 day program 24 3 2 *4 33
Engaging in Sacrament – 3 day program (Primary Schools) 76 *5 81
Engaging in Scripture – 3 day program 35 8 2 *5 50
Cantor & Leader of Song Masterclass 11 **29 40
Inducting the REL into Religious Leadership – 2 day program 20 10 30
Introduction to the Renewed RE Curriculum Framework 240 30 270
Renewed RE Curriculum Framework Collectives – Orientation 50 24 1 75
Renewed RE Curriculum Framework Collectives- 4 day program 65 15 2 82
Secondary REL Network Days – 3 day program 39 2 41
Practical Planning in RE Workshop (Secondary Schools) 25 25
Regional Network Days – 4 day program (Primary Schools) 237 237
Introduction to the ECSI Project 10 2 12
Re-visiting Your ECSI Report 3 6 9
ECSIP Shifting Towards the Theological Normative 37 35 ***54 126
Reading & Interpreting Your New ECSI Report 77 18 ***10 105

 

*Parish Educators

**Secondary School Students

***CEM and/or other Dioceses

 

Key events

6 March 2017                Inducting the REL Mass & Dinner

17 March 2017               Mass of St Patrick & Archbishop’s symposium

10 November 2017      Chapel of St Francis (James Goold House) Opening