Message from the Director: Choosing life to the full

Written by Mr Jude Hennessy
Director, Office of Renewal and Evangelisation
Diocese of Wollongong

What a huge year it has been once again in this ministry. At the time of writing for our final edition of CatechistNet for 2018, I am still on a bit of a ‘high’ after the annual awards Mass, buoyed by the commitment and witness of so many Catechists who this year celebrated various milestones of service with their family and friends present. I cannot help but stop and ponder just how wide an impact and how deep an influence individually, each and every one of these servants of the mission of the Church make as I get to stand at the front of the Cathedral and assist in the honouring our Catechists. It is truly humbling to witness and inspiring to consider the eternal impact it has on the life journey of so many young people.

In a few days’ time, I will have the joy of attending our Biannual celebration of SRE at NSW Parliament House. It will be attended by faith leaders and SRE providers from across over 20 Christian Churches and all of the major world religions. We will be joined by the Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian; the NSW Opposition Leader, Michael Daley; the NSW Minister for Education, Rob Stokes; and Shadow Minister for Education, Jihad Dib. They will be joined by over 20 State MPs and an assembled group of 400 Special eligious Education and teachers. It promises to be a wonderful celebration of the important place of SRE in Public Education and a true affirmation of what you do as a force for good in our multicultural, multifaith society. I look forward to sharing with you the findings of research that will be presented at this gathering, which promises to highlight just how important faith formation is in the lives and development of young people.

We have much to celebrate about this ministry. On 31 October 2018, the new requirements for all SRE providers including the Diocese of Wollongong came into force. These new expectations for 2019 are ones we, as a Diocese, are well and truly ready for as we continue to provide high quality SRE for the parents who choose Catholic SRE for their sons and daughters in NSW, over 9000 in our Diocese and almost 90,000 Catholic kids across NSW. I thank Peter Gilmore, Trish McCarthy, the CCD Team especially our Parish Catechist Coordinators, who ensure that we are prepared for the new expectations around training, teacher reviews, policy development and communication with Parents.

Thanks too, for your cooperation in distributing our very positive SRE programme brochures for parents/carers “Information for families” . That meant that it got into around 700,000 homes and ensured that parents right around NSW were given simple facts about why SRE is a good, sensible choice for children. Almost 70% of Primary School students in NSW primary schools continue to attend SRE and we continue to experience strong growth and demand in our Diocese, particularly in the booming Macarthur region.

Often, when I run into Catechists in various parts of the Diocese, I am privileged to hear from them just how rewarding SRE teaching is for you in your own faith journey. At the same time, I understand the amount of dedication that goes into being able to do this work well as an organised, effective SRE teacher. It is this unseen preparation that is the fruit of good lessons which impacts the lives of young people, and I thank you for it!

It is this commitment that reminds me of St Augustine’s plea that we ‘Pray as though everything depended on God and work as though everything depended on you’. May this truly be the way we approach our SRE teaching, prayerfully and with diligence, trusting that through these things, God’s grace will be set loose in the lives of the young people we are teaching. I hope you have a wonderful Advent and Christmas season, entering deeply into the joy of the incarnation, the Word who became flesh, joining our humanity as friend, brother and King, in the person of Jesus.

This article is from the December 2018 CatechistNET