More than 500 Special Religious Education teachers (SRE/catechists) and 200 student SREs from Catholic high school across the Diocese of Parramatta recently gathered for the annual Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) Mass and Awards Ceremony.
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At the ceremony, held at St Andrew the Apostle Parish, Marayong, six people were presented with special awards for over 40 years of service to the Special Religious Education ministry.
Catholic Outlook has spoken to the following recipients of long-term service awards and asked what encourages them in their ministry.
Gustaw (Gus) Kaster from St Andrew the Apostle Parish, Marayong – 45 years of service
I get joy out of the ministry by listening to the kids and get their answers. I get to take their books home to mark their work, and more than half of the class are connected with the prayers and to the songs. When I play songs in my lessons, the children go out of the classroom and they are singing to the Holy Spirit. It’s good to see the little ones getting the message.
We have so many lessons connected to holiness and to the holy people, and without it, the success wouldn’t be there. I believe that through the connection to Jesus’ teachings, it will make a better society, better homes, and a better world.
I would like to thank the people who are connected to this work which is not often recorded or recognised in the wider society and with thanksgiving and praise, I encourage these people to continue their work and continue the message of Jesus.
Anne Sullivan from the Parish of Baulkham Hills – 45 years of service
I believe that the SRE ministry is missionary work, as part of our mission for Christ. We are imparting the knowledge and sharing the love of the trinity with the children.
I enjoy telling children about the love of God and I find that SRE is a way to show how much you love God. Kindergarten children are delightful – they react in a positive way and I feel that they are taking in whatever I am talking about. I feel the Holy Spirit through these children.
There are a number of children who have small knowledge of God and of the Holy Spirit, so I believe that SRE is a vital ministry to try and encourage kids to build a relationship with Christ.
SRE is a joyful occupation.
Fr Zvonimir Gavranovic, assistant priest from the Parish of Baulkham Hills – 45 years of service
All of my primary schooling was in a state school and as a boy, I remembered that sometimes months or even years would go by where we would not have any scripture lessons.
So, when I became a priest in 1962, I was determined, no matter what parish I was in, that I wouldn’t neglect religion teaching in public schools. I started off in Merrylands in 1972, and I have been involved in state school work ever since.
I think it’s important that our state school children learn something about their faith and to encourage our lay teachers and support them in their work. I felt it is important for the children come to know the priest, that the priest is not someone distant.
I always begin my classes with an Our Father and three Hail Marys and I’m determined that all my pupils know those prayers. So, by the end of the year, all of my pupils can rattle off the Our Father and the Hail Mary, and they are the two most important prayers the kids could ever learn.
Margaret Climpson from St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish, Parramatta – 45 years of service
The joy of being able to bring the love of Jesus into those little children’s hearts and minds was something I never thought I could do, and it was just the most wonderful experience.
It was a joy to go into the schools and know those children trusted me and they knew they could trust me. It was an experience of great love and joy. Everything I taught those children was taught to me as I was becoming a Catholic, and was from my own heart.
All of those 40-odd years I have spent teaching children will go with me to the end of my days.
Apart from raising my own family, those years teaching scripture were the happiest of my life. I am so glad that I answered the call all those years ago. I thank God that I did and I hope I made a difference in the lives of the children I taught.
Raymond (Ray) Love from St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish, Parramatta – 40 years of service
I am part of the SRE ministry for religious reasons, and if I can help spread the word and help Christ in His work, then I’m happy to be able to do it – I feel privileged.
The most joyous part of the ministry is when you feel that you’ve given a good lesson and the children respond and you grab their attention and they ask some good questions, you feel that it’s not being wasted. You know when your lesson is effective.
We expand their knowledge of the Trinity and we get them to recognise their obligations and the benefits accrued to them through practicing religion, it’s for their benefit.
SRE is very, very rewarding and they’re a good bunch of people, and you’ll get plenty of assistance and encouragement and it helps you ponder the truths of our religion as well. It’s beneficial from the point of view of confirming what we’ve learnt at school and what we’ve put into practice.
SRE is one of the most satisfying things that a person can do, and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to chip in my little bit.
Lesley Bosci from Christ the King Parish, North Rocks – 40 years of service
I am motivated each week to help with the SRE ministry because there is a need there. I feel that SRE is sowing the seeds of faith to students, I like to think we’re putting a little idea into their head that will blossom and can be nurtured later on.
I want the children to know about God, I want them to share the joys of it all. We are the face of God to these children, we are bringing a little bit of joy, and we hope that we are making some difference to them.
The people that are involved in the ministry of catechesis are the salt of the earth. They are beautiful people, and friendships develop along the way, and not just in the support of your own parish. Everyone is just a generous, God-loving person, and it has been a wonderful experience to be with those people.
I’ll never leave the ministry. I’ll always be involved in some way.
If you feel that you’ve got the ability to teach SRE, trust in God that he’s leading you to help those children.
For more information about becoming a Special Religious Educator, please contact either your parish office, parish priest or the Diocese of Parramatta’s Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) office via www.parracatholic.org/ccd-home or on 02 8838 3486.