1000 catechists in Silver Jubilee Year

Silver Jubilee Confraternity of Christian Doctrine
Bishop Emeritus of Parramatta, Most Rev Kevin Manning DD (top left), with the Level 3 Primary Training Course graduates and Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Director Paul Worthington (far right) at the CCD Annual Mass in 2010. Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu

By Paul Worthington, Director Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD)

As this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, I decided to do an interesting exercise to line up a comparison of statistics from 1986 with 2011.

CCD figures for this exercise began in 1988:                       

                                                                                          1988           2011

No. of parishes                                                                       44                49

No. of state primary schools attended                                  181             194

No. of special state schools attended                                       8                 1

No. of state secondary schools attended                                30               21

No. of Religious involved full time                                            42                21

No. of priests teaching SRE full time                                        10                  1

No. of lay catechists involved full time including 119 student catechists from Catholic high schools                                                             872              989

Total catechetical ministry nos.                                              924            1016

Some interesting facts from 1988 in our CCD office archives:

  • In Emerton Parish the catechist team (1 priest, 2 Religious and 17 lay catechists) attended 12 state primary schools with 2,440 primary Catholic students attending Scripture and 57 Catholic students in 3 out of the 4 state secondary schools in the parish boundaries attending term seminars.
  • St Mary’s Parish had 7 primary and 2 high schools with 1,069 primary Catholic students catered for.
  • Growth areas were Castle Hill, Blacktown and South Blacktown, Greystanes, and Marayong;
  • Penrith Parish attended 11 primary schools and one of the high schools catering for 1,171 primary students. There was 1 Religious and 70 catechist supporting this parish team.
  • Richmond and Windsor Parishes combined catered for 25 primary state schools and 3 out of the 4 secondary schools with the Motor Mission, 2 Religious, 3 priests and a combined 55 catechists across these schools.
  • Motor Mission and Brothers were involved in high schools.
  • This ministry was marked by approx. 96% of female volunteers.
  • Curriculum for primary was ‘Joy for Living’ and a conglomeration of titles for secondary.
  • Scripture/catechism a common term used for this work

Some interesting facts in 2011 from our CCD archives:

  • Growth areas of north-west and south-west regions of Diocese.
  • Special Religious Education (SRE) the new term under the Department of Education and Training guidelines. Child Protection Guidelines and training more heavily enforced with volunteers. Since 2007, all new SRE personnel have to do Level One Accreditation.
  • Numbers of SRE students dropping in inner areas of the Diocese while growth continues further west.
  • Average age of SRE teachers is lowering. Factors include: both parents working to pay mortgage; babysitting their grandchildren; changing classroom. Other factors: increasing vocational call on senior Catholic students to share their faith with younger students in state schools. University students are also involved for semesters in their years of study.
  • 12% of SRE teachers are retired men compared to the earlier trend of 96% women’s ministry.
  • Volunteering is a harder call due to economic circumstances and the call on grandparents by their own children for support with child-minding.
  • Curriculums used are ‘Christ our Light and Life’ for primary and a more concentrated program selection with the various High School modes of time allocation with: Understanding Faith multimedia resource; Diocese of Broken Bay Secondary modules and ‘Christ our Light and Life’ (7-10 lessons).      
  • In recent times the demands on SRE personnel have increased with up-skilling in multimedia, societal expectations, and alternatives to SRE classes in some NSW schools.

Many of our catechists/SRE teachers/Scripture teachers have been involved in this ministry for 25 years or more and are still in the role and still representing their parish team in this evangelising mission.

Parishes across the Diocese are hugely indebted to more than 1,000 SRE personnel for the wonderful work they continue to perform. Congratulations to all our pioneers on this Silver Jubilee milestone.
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