In 2019, Catholic Outlook will profile Special Religious Education (SRE) Teachers (SREs/Catechists) from around the Diocese of Parramatta and ask them about their ministry.
Parish: Holy Family Parish, Emerton.
Catholic Outlook: How did you come to join this Special Religious Education (SRE) ministry?
Peter Boros: It was in a roundabout way that I ended up becoming a special religious education teacher/catechist. I had joined the catechist team at St Aidan’s Parish in Rooty Hill and did the initial training course with them, and also went to Eastern Creek public school as a helper for a few lessons. Unfortunately, my circumstances at work changed and I was unable to commit to doing the days that they needed covered.
Not long after, another opportunity presented itself at Loyola Senior high school where I have been working as the gardener- to transport the student SREs who were teaching at Tregear Public. We began team teaching and this expanded to take in Lethbridge Park Primary School as well. Both of these schools are part of Holy Family Emerton Parish where there are 10 more public schools to cover!
CO: How long have you been a SRE teacher?
PB: This will be my fourth year.
CO: How many schools have you taught at?
PB: We look after the two schools, mainly Tregear Public School and also the last two years at Lethbridge Park Public School.
CO: What motivates you to give up time each week to teach SRE?
PB: Jesus commands us to tell others of the Good News of His salvation and as Christians this is what we are called to do. Spreading our faith to young minds that are in need of hope in this difficult world, to me, is the most important job in the world!
The only way for this truth to be known is for someone to tell it – as a Christian, there is no better or important way to spend my time.
CO: What has been the highlight of your SRE ministry?
PB: Like any teacher, when you can see a difference you can make in people’s lives through the message we are spreading. Also the relationships with the children, class teachers and the students I worked together with have been very special and unique as they are all centred on our relationship with Jesus. It has had a tremendous effect on my own faith too.
CO: What is the most joyous part of the SRE ministry?
PB: For me I really love hearing the children singing the songs we sing in class through the playground and on their way home. Their enthusiasm and joy is infectious.
CO: What is the most challenging part of the SRE ministry?
PB: Like most of life, there can be many obstacles and challenges that present themselves in our ministry. Difficult classes, behaviour problems, self-doubt about our own ability to do this, the time it can take to prepare effective lessons with all that life throws at you and even the schools can make it difficult sometimes.
But the funny thing is that for every obstacle that has been put in our path, there has always been a solution presented to help us soldier on and overcome, it’s very inspiring.
CO: How do you prepare for a lesson?
PB: I begin preparing for the next lesson pretty much straight after the last one is finished. I like to look over the next lesson and put it into my mind early so I can think and meditate on it when I get even a slight moment and then revisit it several times throughout the week building up on any ideas that I think would work and enhance the lesson. No doubt there is a lot of prayer that goes with any preparation and delivery of all my lessons – my mind and strength is never enough.
CO: How have you found the SRE training sessions?
PB: I started training this year on a Wednesday evening and it has been amazing! The class, the teachers and the content have been fantastic and I have learnt so much.
I really look forward to every Wednesday night. Even though I have a teaching background there’s always so much to learn and to share with other SREs, and it has helped me in my preparations and confidence immensely!
CO: What is your favourite topic to teach?
PB: I love all the passages from the Bible. To me, it is the most important and central part of the lessons. I have the children take turns reading the passages each week and it always is a special moment every lesson.
CO: What is a funny SRE experience you can share with us?
PB: We once had a meditation class for a Stage One class (1st and 2nd graders) and the Loyola student SREs had planned and executed it to perfection. Great music, beautifully read meditation and just the right amount of silent time for reflection. I was very moved and the normally fidgety class responded beautifully.
It was only a small class and when we asked them to open their eyes and come back as a class, we found that three of the girls had fallen asleep and it was not just a nap, they were gone! Two of them slept through the whole class and we really had a difficult time waking them so they could go home at the end of the lesson. It was both funny and beautiful having three sleeping beauties lying amongst the rest of the students as we continued our lesson.
CO: What has been the toughest question a child has asked you?
PB: I haven’t had too many difficult questions as yet but I often get a lot of questions about the devil. I was asked once if Jesus’ birthday is Christmas was the devil’s birthday Halloween? I managed to change the subject!
Just recently I had a student politely put his hand up at the start of a lesson and said in an annoyed voice “I don’t like scripture class” (luckily it was his first lesson with me). After explaining that there is a lot of moments in life that we need to do things that we don’t like, they sat and listened and by the end of the class, we became friends.
CO: How do you believe SRE assists kids?
PB: Our theme for class this Easter was about hope. Many of the children we teach come from difficult and disadvantaged backgrounds, and life, as we all know, is not easy, even if we come from good stable families. So many of these children need some sort of hope.
Those of us who have a strong faith know that our relationship with God is the centre and most important part of our lives, so giving them this hope and having a chance to plant those seeds give that hope a chance to grow into something that will sustain them in their lives and beyond.
We want this for all children – the SRE classes are sometimes the only chance that these children will have to hear this message and at a very important stage of their lives!!
CO: What would you say to anyone considering becoming a SRE teacher?
PB: Take courage and come and help!
There is great support to get you going as either a teacher or helper and by doing as Jesus commanded us, He will always be there to help when you ask Him.
This ministry is so important and the need for people is even greater (12 public schools in this area), so take courage and come and help. The change you can make will be life changing for both you and the students you teach!
For more information about becoming a Special Religious Educator, please contact either your parish office, parish priest, visit the Diocese of Parramatta’s Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) website (www.parracatholic.org/ccd-home) or contact Maree on 02 8838 3486 or Maree.Collis@parracatholic.org