More than 400 leaders in Catholic education took part in the National Religious Education Symposium in Sydney last week, BBI reports.
The symposium, hosted by BBI, centred on the theme "Religious education, secularisation and Australian Catholic schools" and featured keynote presentations and dynamic workshops from internationally respected experts in the field of religious education. All Australian states and territories were represented at the event, as well as teachers and Catholic educational leaders from New Zealand and South Africa.
In his keynote address, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge reflected on the central mission of the religious education teacher in the Catholic school.
“You are very much authentic witnesses of the faith in your school communities, called to help shape a community of missionary disciples,” Archbishop Coleridge explained.
“And that mission needs to be responsive to the culture of the contemporary Catholic school, so that we find a unique way of passing on the faith that is relevant and attuned to their needs.”
Delegates at the symposium benefited from some unique international insights into contemporary religious education from two respected academics from the Catholic University of Paris - professors François Moog and Henri-Jérôme Gagey - who spoke about the challenges of secularisation in their home country.
Greg Whitby, the Executive Director of Schools in the Diocese of Parramatta, told the gathering, religious education and faith formation needs to be seen as a whole school responsibility, rather than simply being confined to that of the religious education teacher, while BBI Senior Lecturer Dr Kath Engebretson called for a review of pre-service training for religious education teachers in Australia to ensure that Catholic schools are well prepared for the challenges of a secular age.
The symposium also featured some practical presentations from Catholic educational leaders, including the Director of Religious Education for Catholic Education in Western Australia, Dr Debra Sayce, who spoke about the importance of integrating a Catholic perspective across the school curriculum, not simply in the area of religious education.