03/11/2012 08:35

Religious Education teaching gets boost

By Sr. Mary McCharthy PBVM
National Catholic Religious Education Secretary

The Religious Education Coordinators’ (RECs) of Catholic Secondary and High Schools gathered for their Annual Conference at Emmaus Conference Centre, East Boroko, 1-6 October. Thirty-one RECs and heads of Personal Development Departments attended a week of reflection, discussion and planning.

The introductory session was a sharing of responses to the question: What are the signs of life in Religious Education in our Catholic Schools? Beyond the Religious Education (RE) Syllabus for Grade 9-12 it is the activities outside the classroom and the spirit which animates the school that can set the hearts of our young people on fire.

Many challenges were also shared: natural disasters, lack of communication, of transport, law and order problems such as holdups, fighting, and other disturbances arising from abuse of drugs and alcohol.

Facilitator, Fr Paul Jennings MSC asked: How do you turn a challenge into an opportunity? There was silence for some minutes as all in the room searched for an answer. All were visibly moved by his answer: Sit with Jesus in prayer! Fr Paul linked this with reflection on the prayer of quiet. Not saying prayers but being there in silence, listening to what God wants to speak to our hearts.

The new Grade 12, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation unit was edited ready for publication following a thorough study and discussion of the draft syllabus and suggestions for improvement. Copies will soon be available for Gr 12 RE teachers.

This year more laymen and women attended the Conference. Their commitment to hand on the Catholic faith today suggests that positive change can happen. Mrs Linda Lawrence, Sacred Heart Secondary School, Hagita summed up her experience:  “A very fruitful and inspirational week. I am particularly thankful for the Retreat Training because finding someone for retreats is quite difficult.”

Mr Robert Yinambe, St Jude’s High School, Mongop, a new RE teacher commented: “The program was very helpful especially for new teachers in the field like me. Ideas, problems and methods were shared freely.” A practical suggestion came from Mr Charles Komolaga, Poinini Agricultural Technical Sschool about “using available materials to start with; you do not need something big to start.” Mrs Ellie Joseph, Rosary SS, Kondiu, who is one of the experienced RECs: “Everything we went through this Conference was excellent and a real blessing; all of us shared our experiences and reported on what is happening in the schools.”

Catholic Identity can be promoted in each school when the vision and mission is truly lived by the whole school community. Sr Lucy Mosken, SSSp, Holy Spirit HS, Bogia expressed her feelings: “I felt encouraged and strengthened. The conference really helped me to look at the wider picture of the Church in PNG in Education.” The sessions were animated by Br Jeet Masih sg, Kopen SS, Wabag who had everyone fully alive with songs and movement which teachers could take back to their schools. (CBC Communications 20121102 – giorgiolicini@yahoo.com)