Our Lady of the Rosary Parish Kellyville

Glenmore Park SRE team gets a boost


Catholic Outlook May 2015: DWF Appeal
Members of the CCD team at Glenmore Park (from left): Antoinetta Morano, Eileen McGann, Maria Lachevre, Deacon Pio, Cait Griffin, Elvie Williams, Fr Robert Riedling and Fiona Clarke.

Originally published in Catholic Outlook May 2015

By Virginia Knight

The vital ministry of sharing the Catholic faith with students in state schools though Special Religious Education reaches out to more than 18,000 students in primary and secondary schools in the Diocese of Parramatta.

The Regional Coordinator for the Parramatta Holroyd District, Fiona Clarke, first became involved in the ministry of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) as a catechist when she answered the call for members of her parish at Glenmore Park to teach Scripture for 30 minutes a week in public schools.

“I thought that if I wanted someone to teach my child Scripture at school then I should accept the challenge,” she said. “I now teach Year 6 in all public schools in our parish and thoroughly enjoy it, as well as being part of a great team.”

In her role as a Regional Coordinator, Fiona provides the 10 parish coordinators and SRE teams in her region with appropriate leadership and management skills. She conducts accreditation courses, and provides inservice opportunities, personal support and ongoing formation to the SREs (catechists).

“One of the most rewarding aspects of the job are the friendships that have been formed amongst the SREs. It is a lifetime bond,” she said.

“People in our courses have told us that belonging to this ministry has been life changing. Participating in courses or inservices provided by CCD Parramatta has renewed their faith and made it stronger.

“The passion and pride that all SREs take into the classroom each week is a miracle. They are volunteers who take time out of their own busy schedules to prepare and present lessons.”

Padre Pio Parish at Glenmore Park has a healthy and active SRE team, whose members range in age from 35 to 80 years. Following a recruitment drive last year the parish gained five new SRE teachers and now has 13 SREs and three assistants covering three schools.

Helen Rapisarda, one of the new SREs at Surveyors Creek, felt a need to do something for others.

SRE at Glenmore Park, Marlene Schoebel rejoined the team after a short break to start a family. “I always had the intention of returning once my youngest started school. The main reason I decided to teach Scripture was because I found it so rewarding and fulfilling,” she said.

“To have the opportunity and ability to be able to teach children about God and Christian values and beliefs is a privilege. Half an hour is a short amount of time to get such a large amount of satisfaction from knowing what a difference it makes for a child.”

The parish also has 45-50 student SREs from Caroline Chisholm College who are rostered to teach a couple of lessons during the year.

“The girls have been teaching at Glenmore Park Public for more than 13 years and the relationship grows stronger every year,” Fiona said. “The girls love the experience and the students love the girls coming to present lessons.”

Students from St Pauls Catholic College at Greystanes also participate in a very successful program with the local public school and recently Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta initiated a student SRE program.

Last term more than 40 students taught classes at Parramatta North Public School in groups of two or three as helpers and observers to see how SRE classes are run with the aim of becoming SRE teachers.

“The girls and the students love this new arrangement,” Fiona said.

The CCD Director, Paul Worthington, said the presence of young people in the SRE teams enriches the whole parish team and assists in the personal development of the student catechists.

“Many have progressed to take up careers in teaching, particularly in Catholic schools,” Paul said. “The students develop self-confidence and consolidate their own faith.”

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