Paul Worthington will retire as Director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) on 18 December 2015 after close to 13 years in the role.
The CCD was established in Australia in 1958, some 400 years after its genesis, and was introduced to Parramatta in 1987.
The CCD provides adult education for catechists (Special Religious Educators) so that they are equipped to teach the Catholic faith in state schools.
Paul believes there are two major motivators for those who decide to become catechists.
“They have to want to share their faith and love to teach kids,” he said. “You have to love it because it’s hard going into a classroom. Anyone who says that teaching is easy has no idea. It’s a hard task.”
Paul said the greatest attribute of the CCD was its individual catechists. “For some kids, that’s their only contact with the Church.”
Prior to his work with the CCD, Paul was principal of St Joseph’s Primary School in Laurieton-Kempsey, where he experienced the daily challenges associated with teaching, recognising also the unique difficulties linked to teaching primary students.
“It is a challenge. I always taught primary but I changed to secondary in about 2007,” he said. “I changed over because if I was going to ask people to teach secondary, I had to be prepared to do it myself.
“That requires training – to be able to take a question, answer it respectfully, and then get back to the course outline. Some people would find that difficult.”
Paul has been asked many tough questions over the years, and he recommends being upfront and truthful about your own knowledge.
“If you don’t know the answer, admit it. Say, ‘Look I don’t know the response to that. Can I get back to you?’ Because as soon as you try to pull the wool over the students’ eyes, they read you straight away.”
Reflecting on the changes he has seen in his time with the CCD, Paul said there was a need to encourage more young people to become catechists.
“The days of having catechists teach for 40 or 50 years is changing. We need more young people to become catechists.”
In our Diocese, 510 students from 19 Catholic schools are catechists in 190 state primary schools.
“I am grateful to Bishop Kevin Manning and Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, who were very conscious of the work of the CCD and who supported its ministry across the parishes,” Paul said.
“I have been blessed with a CCD team of regional coordinators and my co-worker in the office, Maree Collis, who have supported the hard work of parish teams of SRE teachers and helpers. I am very indebted to this diocesan team but extremely well supported by the local parish teams where SRE begins.”
For information about the CCD and becoming a catechist in the Diocese of Parramatta click here