During her visit to the Diocese of Parramatta, the Vatican’s most senior female leader, Sr Nathalie Becquart XMCJ, gave a lecture and participated in a roundtable discussion on the importance of active listening and dialogue within the context of synodality in the Catholic Church. Sr Nathalie drew on the example of Jesus and the disciples on the road to Emmaus to illustrate how listening and conversation can lead to important realisations.
Frances Garzaniti, Principal of Holy Spirit Primary St Clair, attended this lecture and was inspired by Sr Nathalie’s message. Frances reflected on the significance of synodality in Catholic schools, emphasising the importance of journeying with communities, listening with compassion and humility, and allowing the Spirit to work through people. Frances sees this approach as critical in creating collaborative and inclusive learning environments that value the contributions of all members of a learning community.
Another attendee, Mark Pauschmann, Principal of Parramatta Marist High School, Westmead, shared his thoughts on synodality. Mark stated that he believes synodality calls us to embrace open and frank dialogue within the Church. He believes that such dialogue can lead to new and fruitful interpretations of what faith means to each of us. As a leader in a Catholic school, Mark sees the call to engage with those within his community who hold differing views or interpretations as an opportunity to deepen understanding and enrich the expression of Catholic identity.
Sr Nathalie emphasised the importance of involving young people in the Church, stating that they bring a unique perspective and energy that is essential for the Church’s growth and renewal.
Michelina Shinella, Religious Education Coordinator from Cerdon College Merrylands, understands the importance of forging stronger relationships with our youth. Through relationships, she recognises the opportunities for young people to have their voices heard to get involved in order to help schools and the Church remain relevant and engaged in the world.
The emphasis on active listening and dialogue during Sr Nathalie’s visit affirmed a strong focus on collaboration and inclusivity among Catholic school leaders in the Diocese of Parramatta. This has the potential to continue to grow supportive and inclusive learning environments for both students and teachers.
This article was originally published in the 2023 Lent and Easter | Autumn edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine. You can pick up your copy of the magazine in parishes and offices across the Diocese of Parramatta now or you can read the digital version here.