A new school term has begun, and as parents, students and teachers get settled into the rhythm, Maree Collis has been hard at work making sure that the Special Religious Education (SRE) teachers have everything they need for their parish meetings and be ready for the year ahead.
Maree is the Office Manager for the Diocese of Parramatta’s Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD), and has recently celebrated her 20th year of service to the Diocese.
“It’s a good feeling to have clocked up 20 years of service in one place, particularly working for the church. It’s a nice achievement,” Maree said.
“I knew nothing about CCD before I saw the job advertised, but the main draw card for me at the time was that I was not required to work school holidays as my children were all still at school,” Maree said. “I spoke with the Assistant Principal at my kid’s school and said, ‘do you know anything about the CCD?’ We both did a bit of research to find out what it was all about.”
“My job itself has evolved over those 20 years. I was employed originally as a secretary and then completed study along the way to better myself and help with the work including Business and Frontline Management. As the years rolled on I took on accounts and payroll, completing an MYOB course to help with this aspect.”
The CCD office was set up in the Diocese of Parramatta on 15 June 1987 by Bishop Bede Heather, following the establishment of the diocese. The CCD provides training and support of SRE teachers, also known as catechists, who present religious education and faith formation to Catholic students in government and special needs schools.
In the Diocese of Parramatta, there are over 700 volunteers who teach SRE weekly and an additional 350 senior students from Catholic high schools who assist as helpers across the 47 parishes of the diocese.
Maree said that the most rewarding part of her role is speaking to and meeting with the SRE teachers and helpers. “Putting a face to a name is always nice.”
“All our volunteers are just wonderful and they’re just so grateful for every little thing you do for them.
“I often feel very humbled and privileged when talking and listening to the SREs. They share things with you, whether it be their faith journey or sometimes something more personal. I appreciate the relationships that develop.”
Maree also commented that she has formed great relationships with past and present members of the CCD team. “I’m very grateful to be working with such a fabulous group of people.
“I’ve been privileged to have worked with some wonderful Directors. Cecilia is the fourth director I have worked with. We have a great rapport and work really well together.“
CCD Director Cecilia Zammit says that Maree plays an important part in the running of the ministry.
“Maree is an important member of the CCD team not only because of the professional way she completes her role in administration and finance but especially because she is knowledgeable about the ministry, giving up-to-date information and offering a listening ear when the need arises.
“Maree helps facilitate training sessions when the evening course is on offer and organises big events like the Annual CCD Mass and Reflection Days with care to every detail.
“Maree’s level of professionalism and motivation means that I can get on with other tasks and the work can be expanded. The CCD team call Maree for clarification on various matters and in 2018, Maree has had oversight of the office renovations,” Cecilia said.
Over her 20 years of service, Maree said that the annual CCD Mass for all the volunteers and school representatives was one of the highlights. “As much as it is a lot of work for me leading up to it, that is probably the highlight of any year as it brings so many of our volunteers together.”
When asked about how her role makes a difference, Maree again made mention of the relationship she has developed with the volunteers. “Being of assistance to others is important. When somebody says thank you and is appreciative of the work you do, you know that you’ve contributed something valuable.”
If you are interested in sharing your faith in this way, please visit the CCD office website (www.parracatholic.org/ccd-home), contact your local parish, or the CCD office (02 8838 3486) where Maree will be happy to receive your call.