New Diocesan course draws people into conversation with scripture

By Donnie Velasco, 20 February 2024
Dr Debra Snoddy (right) speaks during the FaithLIFE Scripture short course at the Bishop Bede Heather Centre, Blacktown. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


Underway with the FaithLIFE Scripture Short Course with Dr Debra Snoddy

Dr Debra Snoddy has a gift of drawing people into conversation with scripture. In candid and curious fashion, she was able to immediately guide the participants of the Diocese of Parramatta’s FaithLIFE Scripture Short Course into dialogue with the text and with each other.

“What strikes you and why?” was one of the first questions she posed to the group after they had together read from Genesis 38. They together discussed what confronted them: issues of family politics, marital relations, requirements of the law and multiple punishments by death in which God appears to have carried out. Implicit in her question and her following facilitation of discussion was the insight that there is more to the words of the Bible than its literal reading. In effect, she accompanied over 30 participants from parishes around the diocese (and beyond) toward the understanding that scripture is perhaps more a reflection of people’s understanding of God under ongoing development. 

Dr Debra Snoddy (left) speaks during the FaithLIFE Scripture short course at the Bishop Bede Heather Centre, Blacktown. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

As the first of three sessions of the FaithLIFE Scripture Short Course carried on, Dr Snoddy – who prefers to be called Debra as a sign of solidarity and empowerment for those she guides through scripture – developed the overarching theme of, “The Women in Matthew Genealogy.” For Debra, “These are the women who teach us to lean into the unknown of God’s mission, struggling to survive with so much stacked against them.” By drawing together historical context and a narrative analysis of the text, Debra developed the understanding how God stands with women in Scripture, working through the culture and traditions of people. 

A number of participants expressed their appreciation for the way the particular selections of scripture that Debra chose didn’t shy away from the realities of human relationships. But at the same time, some raised their challenge to see how these early stories in the Bible connected to God, spirituality and faith, especially when the First Testament passages seemed more focused on human dynamics. All in all, there was a buzz throughout the whole session. A good sign that the words of scripture were drawing each of them into a living conversation with the living God. 

The FaithLIFE Scripture Short Course is still underway over the next two Tuesday, with opportunities available to join the remaining sessions by registering online. 

The short course is one of the works of the Mission Enhancement Team (MET) – Diocese of Parramatta, with more opportunities available throughout the year.  

See their calendar of offerings or contact MET via for an opportunity near you!  


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