Catholic Schools Office Wagga Wagga - Annual Report 2012
‘Catholic Schools are called to be dynamic signs and instruments of the life-giving good news of Jesus Christ.’ (Bishop Hanna 2011) The Bishop’s Mandate provided the focus for the work undertaken in the Catholic Life Team.
The challenge being to help teachers discover their personal vocation, and to maintain a religious and social justice framework that actually gave our community an opportunity to experience the Kingdom.
We also needed to ensure our policies, programs and practices strengthen Catholic identity and recognise the place of Catholic schools within the evangelising mission of the Church.
Catholic Identity & RE
Head of Team: John Goonan
PRIORITY ONE |
Strategic Intent 1.1 | Implementation of Bishop Hanna’s Mandate ‘Continuing the Adventure’
Orientation sessions were held across the Diocese for staff new to Catholic Education. Staff were introduced to the history of Catholic education in the Diocese, the Vision and Mission statements and the practicalities of teaching religious education.
Continuing the practice of strengthening Catholic identity, Staff Spirituality Days were conducted where participants were invited to unpack the Bishop’s mandate and renew their understandings. Catholic Life team members also took a leading role in prayer and reflection during meetings of CSO staff, Principal gatherings and RE Network meetings.
Strategic Intent 1.2 | Implementation of policies, programs and practices which strengthen Catholic identity and recognise the place of Catholic schools within the evangelising mission of the Church.
A key initiative in this area was the visit of Fr Anthony Gittins, CSS for a week in March 2012. Fr Anthony was to talk to a gathering of all school Principals and the priests of the Diocese for one day, spend two days delivering a retreat to members of the Catholic Schools Office Team and spend two days with Principals and Religious Education Coordinators at the end of the week. The theme of Father’s talks was “Encountering Jesus: A Call to Radical Discipleship”. However, the breaking of the drought, the associated flooding of the Murrumbidgee River and the evacuation of central Wagga coincided with the visit and prevented many from attending the sessions. Those who were able to make it to the sessions found the time with Father Anthony both stimulating and challenging.
Connections Wagga Wagga is a suite of experiences for the formation and renewal of all staff employed in Catholic education in the Wagga Diocese. Each program is tailored to meet the needs of staff at different stages of their personal and professional journey.
In 2012, 13 staff participated in ‘Connections: Come and See’ (for staff who have worked in the system for 3-5 years) and 12 staff in ‘Connections: Follow Me” (for staff who have worked in the system for 6-10 years).
The following are some of the reflections from participants in ‘Connections: Come and See’:
A renewed sense of my faith and love of Jesus. I really do feel “connected” to Him again and have a rejuvenated appreciation of His place in my life. I feel more positive and as if my insignificant worries and struggles can fade to the background now he is well and truly active in me again.
I AM worthy to follow Jesus. By being me and being human I am doing/living/being what God has planned for us all.
The fellowship was wonderful.
Working with people in a relaxed atmosphere.
A greater understanding of my own position and relationship with Christ. And idea of what I would like to do more of in life to improve my discipleship.
A really supportive environment in which to share, explore, learn and continue my faith journey.
Some of the participants reflections after ‘Connections: Follow Me’ included:
The more I know about God and understand the Kingdom, the more I feel that I can help the children I am blessed to have in my care.
The time to reflect/discuss/ponder was beneficial in helping me get to a place of comfort and awe where I know God will always invite me.
Studying and experiencing Bible stories helps me and also my teaching.
The time to reflect/discuss/ponder was beneficial in helping me get to a place of comfort and awe, where I know God will always invite me.
Being aware myself of the Kingdom of God here now and with us! I feel I am on the right path.
I feel very privileged to be amongst a very supportive group of people whose knowledge and guidance opened my eyes and heart.
Strategic Intent 1.3 | Implementation of a framework for the professional development and ongoing formation of staff in Religious Education and Theological Studies.
A record number of 38 teachers completed their Graduate Certificate of Theology (Religious Education) in 2012. The post- graduate course is taught in Wagga by the Broken Bay Institute (BBI) which is affiliated with the University of Newcastle (UoN).
Two teachers from our schools also completed a Master of Theology through BBI and UoN.
Ms Genevieve O’Reilly a member of staff of Xavier High School and Gemma Hale from St Joseph’s Primary School in Wagga Wagga, are the first teachers in the Diocese to gain a Masters in Theology through the partnership the Catholic Schools Office has with BBI and UoN.
Another 24 teachers from the Diocese began their Graduate Certificate course in 2012. To make participation in the degree course for all teachers in the Diocese, the lectures were relayed by video link to Griffith, Albury and Finley from Wagga.
Graduate Certificate of Theology graduates 2012
Strategic Intent 1.4 | Implementation of a framework for the passing on of Catholic faith, life and culture to all involved in our schools.
“Sharing Our Story” is the Diocesan Religious Education syllabus. Units were rewritten for each primary year level for Lent and Easter. This was done to address areas identified by the participation of our students in the Year Six Religious Education tests. There were some aspects which were not being adequately covered. A successful application was also made to the Board of Studies for endorsement of “Sharing Our Story” as an appropriate course of study for students in Year 9, 10, 11 and 12.
As well as participating in the Year 6 test in 2012, students in year 8 also participated in the Sydney Archdiocese test for the first time. Data, though limited, indicated that our students are well informed and prepared.
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