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Mary Immaculate School, Ivanhoe
Last year, I was fortunate to participate in the Principals Professional Learning Program looking at Catholic identity. The program was based in Leuven, Belgium, at the Katholieke Universiteit (Catholic University). A well-planned itinerary – including Rome, Brussels, Paris and the Netherlands – allowed us to immerse ourselves in European culture and to make vital comparisons with Australian culture.
The real learning for me came from the exposure to new thought around critical issues such as the identity of Catholic schools through the Enhancing Catholic Identity Process areas of Theoretical Backgrounds and Empirical Operationalisation, Children’s Spirituality, and Leadership and Spirituality. A broad span of lectures promoted deep thought and broad discussion among the group and challenged our thinking around Catholic identity.
The Chapel of Disclosure in Brussels was a particularly moving experience. The chapel was bare except for a few wooden stools and we took in nothing other than ourselves and sat with God. It was not comfortable at first because the visuals that we rely on to connect us to God were not there.
The experience provided a new freedom to engage with God without the restrictions of tradition or accepted rituals. It was as though that chapel was nothing until we walked in there! It was a powerful experience and one that I believe we should explore in our schools: when we, faith-filled individuals, sit with the bare bones of our faith and allow ourselves to contemplate and embrace change, we allow new possibilities to come forward. Critical to this is dialogue with our community, particularly our younger people, where we really listen to what they think about Catholic identity today.
The Leuven program has enabled me to look at the re-contextualisation of our faith with new eyes and to lead my community to a new faith-filled space.
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Religious Education & Catholic Identity
of the 2014 calendar, the Religious Education Conference was held at the
Catholic Leadership Centre on 24–25 July.
delegates from schools and parishes throughout the Archdiocese attended the conference,
where keynote presentations were given by:
The theme of
the conference was: You too can become all flame.
All present were encouraged to be ‘flame’ and witness to Christ, in their work
in schools and parishes as they attempt to witness the Catholic faith to
The next RE
Conference will be held in 2016.
The Enhancing Catholic School Identity Project is an
initiative designed to assist schools to better understand how their Catholic identity
is expressed in work and practice, and to support them in their future
The 2014 Enhancing Catholic School Identity (ECSI) survey in
the Archdiocese of Melbourne registered 93 schools, all of which undertook the
ECSI survey for the first time.
These schools were strongly supported in their understanding
of ECSI and the preferred stances and provided with modelling and practise
regarding data literacy in order to interpret the survey results. Schools were
This three-fold approach contributed to the capacity of
schools to engage with the data and the theological underpinnings of ECSI,
enabling school leaders and staff to begin to realise ways in which they might
enhance the Catholic identity of their schools.
ECSI and Catholic identity continue to influence the work of
a growing number of staff groups within the CEOM, who recognise and act on
diverse and rich opportunities for explicit references to Catholic identity
across their work. In the past twelve months, important initiatives have been
undertaken by various teams with each successfully including and making
specific connections with Catholic identity in their work, how it relates to
the work of the organisation and how it meets the needs of the communities that
Support for Leaders
of Religious Education
In 2014 the
CEOM continued to offer professional learning to Religious Education Leaders
(RELs) in primary schools. Specific support was offered to those beginning in
the role through a spaced learning induction program. Collegial support for all
RELs was maintained through regional network meetings. These meetings and
programs were designed to build the capacity of RELs as key supports for the
faith leadership of primary school principals.
Leaders of Religious Education and Faith Development in secondary schools were supported
to empower their teachers to provide rich and relevant Religious Education
curriculum within a faith-filled environment. Programs in 2014 included:
As a result of ongoing discussions with RELs an initiative
was undertaken to review the teaching resource Coming to Know Worship and Love by the CEOM with REL participation.
The review has led to the commencement of activities for a renewal of the
Religious Education Curriculum Framework document to better support Religious Education
teachers in their use of To Know, Worship
and Love. This initiative will continue throughout 2015.
The Catechist team offers support and formation to the parishes of the Archdiocese of Melbourne for the provision of Religious Education to Catholic students who do not attend Catholic schools. In 2014, 296 catechists and parish personnel from 57 different parishes participated in 32 days of professional learning. This number included 19 catechists from the Chaldean Catholic community, participating in four days of the Catechist Diploma course conducted on Saturdays in the second half of the year.
Twenty-four catechists graduated with awards presented by Archbishop Denis Hart at a Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Further support for catechists in 2014 included:
In addition, catechists visiting government schools to conduct Catholic Special Religious Instruction (CSRI) were supported through training and lesson outlines. A key focus of the Catechist team has been the reworking of lessons for catechists visiting government schools as Catholic Special Religious Instructors.
Leadership in Faith
All principals who are appointed to the position for the
first time in the Archdiocese of Melbourne participate in a two-year induction
program. The Religious Education and Catholic Identity team play a significant
role in providing input for this program in relation to faith formation.
Opportunities are offered for principals to reflect on what
it means to be the principal of a Catholic school. Time is spent reflecting on
the key leadership role the principal has in maintaining and enhancing the
Catholic identity of the school. Some specific focus areas covered included:
Leading a Faith Community, Prayer, Being in relationship with God, Living the
Catholic Tradition, Image of God, and Catholic Social Teaching.
Principals Professional Learning Program
From late September through to the end of October 2014, a group of twelve principals and
members of Catholic Education Offices across Victoria participated in the
Principals Professional Learning Program at the Katholieke Universiteit
(Catholic University) in Leuven, Belgium. This intensive study course combined
a mixture of theological studies and visits to Catholic schools and education offices
in different parts of Western Europe. The program offered all participants an
opportunity to reflect on the Catholic identity of schools, both
internationally and here in Australia.
challenged all participants to reflect on what they believe Catholic schools
should be today. The program certainly reminded all involved that we must
continue to work as hard as we can to ensure that the Catholic story continues
to be told in our schools.
Professional Learning Programs
total of 833 school staff from 263 schools participated in one or more of 24
Religious Education professional learning program in 2014. These programs
addressed a range of areas including Catholic identity, teacher formation,
faith leadership, scripture, theology, meditation, liturgy and prayer.
In addition, parish catechists were offered support through 14 formation and professional learning programs designed to address their specific needs and situation. These programs attracted 289 enrolments from 55 parishes.
to Teach in a Catholic School policy aims to assist all teachers in Catholic
schools to develop a deeper understanding of the nature of the school as part
of the Church’s mission and the role they play in that mission. The
Accreditation to Teach Religious Education policy is designed to support teachers
of Religious Education.
there was a:
Over 450 applications
were received from schools and other institutions for approval of in-house accreditation
as part of the completion of requirements of Policy 1.6
for Accreditation to Teach in a Catholic School.
In 2014, a
three-minute information video
was produced and uploaded to the CEOM website, giving information to
prospective new teachers as well as to schools who may wish to utilise it for
their staff professional development. A new Frequently Asked Questions for
Accreditation document was also made available on the CEOM website
to address the many enquiries about Accreditation.
Religious Education Sponsorship
offers sponsorship to teachers interested in pursuing further studies in
Theology or Religious Education. In 2014, 220 teachers were sponsored to
undertake studies in Religious Education and Theology.
*The majority of teachers sponsored for further study applied for the Masters of Religious Education course at Australian Catholic University and the Graduate Certificate in Guiding Meditation at Catholic Theological College.
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