After months of disruptions and uncertainties, the Diocese of Parramatta’s Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) has welcomed news that all Special Religious Education (SRE) teachers can return to the classrooms.
On 21 July 2022, the NSW Department of Education advised “that from 1 August 2022, there are no vaccination requirements for non-DoE staff, visitors and volunteers – including SRE/SEE teachers [Catechists and Helpers]. They are however required to wear masks whilst working/volunteering with students at greater risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19 [CCD recommends checking with your school regarding any management plans for students with additional health needs]”.
This information has allowed a number of passionate and dedicated teachers to return to active ministry.
Over the last two terms, three Regions have celebrated their annual Regional Masses, coming together to be renewed and invigorated in their mission.
Catholic Outlook has collated these reports from the Regional Masses.
Hills Regional Mass (pictured above)
It was a blessing to gather on a chilly evening in early June to recognise the SRE Catechists from the nine parishes across the Hills region. Parish of Baulkham Hills Parish Priest Fr Wim Hoekstra, along with St Paul the Apostle Parish, Winston Hills, assistant priest Fr Marcus Hazelman, Parish of Baulkham Hills assistant priest Fr Jessie Balorio and Assistant Deacon Andrew Rooney celebrated Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in the Parish of Baulkham Hills. In his homily, Fr Wim affirmed and inspired us all to be a real ‘Light of the World’.
The Hills Regional Mass provides a wonderful opportunity for SREs across the region to gather and connect with other SRE Catechists.
An important component of the evening is the recognition of individual SREs for their five and ten years of service, as well as completion of the Level 1 and 2 Training Courses.
Our hard-working Parish Coordinators and Coordinating teams received a special blessing, asking the Spirit “to come upon them and fill them with wisdom and blessings”. All SREs received a blessing to “strengthen them with the Spirit’s gifts so that they may teach by word and example the truth which comes from you”.
A PowerPoint presentation of SRE highlights from the last 12 months reminded us of the diversity and connection of Hills SREs.
This was a wonderful evening of food and fellowship amongst our SRE Catechists. Thank you to the Parish of Baulkham Hills for their organisation and warm hospitality.
Helen Zammit and Wendy Hord – Hills Regional Coordinators.
Hawkesbury Regional Mass
On Friday 17 June, the Hawkesbury Region’s SRE yearly Mass was celebrated at St John the Evangelist Parish, Riverstone, gathering people from the seven parishes of the region. Students from Bede Polding College, and St John Paul II Catholic College, who also participate in the ministry as student SRE assistants, were able to join us for Mass.
Mass was celebrated by Riverstone Parish Priest Fr Zakaria Gayed, who was assisted by Deacon Tony Hoban, the Pastoral Director of St Luke’s Catholic Faith Community in Marsden Park. Fr Zak prayed a blessing for us all to continue the excellent work undertaken in SRE across the region.
We celebrated the achievements of SRE Catechists, and we gave thanks for the generous time and talent given by all those involved in this ministry.
Certificates were presented to those who have contributed significantly by their service of five and ten years for their parish or across the region. We also recognised those people who completed the Levels 1 and 2 of the CCD training courses.
I would like to thank Fr Zak and the SRE Catechist team at Riverstone for hosting the Mass this year and assisting with the light refreshments enjoyed by those in attendance, Deacon Tony for his homily and all those who could attend. It was a very enjoyable morning!
Carol Vella – Hawkesbury Regional Coordinator
Nepean Regional Mass
I always enjoy opportunities to gather with the dedicated men and women from across the Nepean Region that volunteer their time and talents to share the Good News with the Catholic children that attend local state schools.
One such opportunity was the Annual Regional Mass, which was held on Tuesday 19 July at Holy Family Church, Luddenham, in Sacred Heart Parish, Luddenham-Warragamba.
Luddenham-Warragamba Parish Priest Fr Giovani Presiga, presided over our celebration with representatives from most of the parishes in the Region able to attend. Teaching classes, illness and other appointments contributed to others being unable to attend on the day, but they were definitely with us in spirit.
Blessings were prayed over myself, the Parish Coordinators and the Catechist SREs. There was also the chance to recognise those who have reached five and ten years of service and those who completed Level 1 and 2 CCD training. There was then a chance to catch up for a chat over morning tea – which has not been possible for the past couple of years.
In the First Reading of the day, the prophet Micah asks the Lord to lead His people to richer pastures. Perhaps some of our lessons may not go quite to plan and we may feel the need to ask to be led to richer pastures. We need to remember that we plant seeds that others will water and we may never know what fruit it will produce.
While the children may not always remember what we teach them they will remember that we were the friendly face that came along every week and told them the stories of God and Jesus and that fruit will last.
Carmel Fenton – Nepean Regional Coordinator
To find out more about joining this amazing and enriching ministry, contact your parish office, or speak with Maree Collis on (02) 8838 3486.