As we reflect on Term 2, it is obvious that it has been rich with opportunities for the training and formation of our Special Religious Education (SRE) teachers/catechists in the Diocese of Parramatta.
Level 1 training was completed in St Marys on Fridays (7 sessions), and at the Institute For Mission (IFM) Blacktown on Wednesday evenings (14 sessions) whilst Level 2 is well underway in Winston Hills. For 10 weeks in March and May, catechists gathered at the IFM to better understand the Gospel of Luke, their Journey of Faith, Interfaith dialogue and Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si’ as part of Level 3 Training.
On Friday 21 June, 50 catechists gathered in the parish hall of St Paul the Apostle Parish, Winston Hills, to learn new strategies on teaching students about the Parables of Jesus. The presenter, Maureen Hemmings, shared videos and other resources to help these teachers explore the world of the text including geography and culture, and encouraged catechists to reflect on the parables in a deeper way. Many catechists expressed appreciation for their new learnings and left the sessions enthused about practicing new teaching strategies in the classroom.
Celebration is also an important part of being a catechist and each year Special Religious Education teachers/catechists gather for Eucharist in their regional groups in different parts of the Diocese of Parramatta. This term there were three such celebrations in Blackheath, North Rocks and Blacktown.
On Tuesday 7 May, catechists teaching in public schools in the Blue Mountains from Glenbrook, Springwood, Lawson, Katoomba and Blackheath gathered at Sacred Heart Parish Church Blackheath. It might have been cold outside but inside the church, there was warmth and joy as catechists joined together to pray and sing the hymns. Fr Bob Sheridan’s words of praise and reassurance were heartfelt and the lunch that followed Mass was indeed hearty!
On the night of Tuesday 4 June, SREs from the Hills Region assembled at Christ the King Parish Church, North Rocks, where Fr Ian McGinnity spoke about Jean Varnier’s life and ministry, and reminded catechists of the value of their very important mission and how it impacts on children. Hills regional coordinators Helen Zammit and Wendy Hord recalled the life of Marie Trapp, who died earlier this year, and her valued contribution to SRE at Holy Name of Mary Parish, Rydalmere. They also presented service awards and completion of training certificates to catechists.
On Friday 14 June, Fr Reggie Lavilla warmly welcomed more than 60 catechists from Seven Hills, Marayong Doonside, Blacktown, Lalor Park, Rooty Hill and Plumpton, who came together at St Patrick’s Church Blacktown. Now the Parish Priest of Mary Queen of the Family Parish Blacktown, Fr Reggie remembered with great fondness the catechists in his life as he grew up in the Philippines and acknowledged in his homily that it was their instruction and their faith that brought to life his faith and helped him on the road to committing to becoming a priest.
Following the Regional Masses, SREs were presented with certificates for 5 and 10 years of service, and several SREs were awarded certificates for completion of Level 1 and Level 2 training courses.
Training sessions and the regional Masses offer skills and encouragement to the SRE teachers who present religion lessons each week to students from Catholic families in more than 195 public primary and secondary schools in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. In Term 2, SRE lessons covered topics including Pentecost, the Holy Trinity, Church life, Saints, Mission and Creation.
The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) is grateful to our priests in parishes throughout the diocese, who support the SREs in their teaching and include parish commissioning Masses in their annual schedule, as well as these Regional Masses.
Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains has a growing population with many schools expanding each year so more SREs/catechists are needed.
Cecilia Zammit is the Director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in the Diocese of Parramatta.
If you would like to find out more about becoming an SRE teacher or an assistant teacher please contact your parish office, or Maree Collis on 8838 3485 or email firstname.lastname@example.org