Mission and Catholic Life
Overview of diocese and missionary discipleship
Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga exist to educate and form young people in Catholic discipleship. Catholic schools have a religious purpose and a religious life. Our schools share a common purpose to educate and form students as followers, or missionary disciples, of Jesus.
Jesus is the foundation of Catholic schools – ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’ (John 10:10).
Our work in Catholic education is to create the conditions for students to become fully alive – inspired with a love of learning and a heart of hope. So that our students reach the fullness of their humanity, we are called to nurture: high quality relationships; the development of critical thinking capabilities, human values and a moral and ethical worldview; a relationship with Jesus through experiencing, teaching and practicing the Catholic faith.
‘Catholic schools are at once places of evangelisation, of complete formation, of inculturation, of apprenticeship in a lively dialogue between young people of different religions and social backgrounds.’
“Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, (1997) The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium” n 11
Catholic schools in the diocese of Wagga Wagga exist to share and teach the Catholic faith and provide the best possible Catholic education for all.
Catholic schools evangelise, that is to say, share the good news of Jesus Christ through personal and communal witness and word. It is hoped that this witness and word will lead each person in the Catholic school community to encounter and engage with Jesus and His message; becoming missionary disciples who live and proclaim the Gospel in all that we do and say.
Sharing Our Story is the Religious Education syllabus used by schools in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga.
Sharing Our Story is organised around eight strands: God, Jesus, Church, Sacraments, Scripture, Christian Life, Prayer and Religion and Society. (Religion and Society is a strand taught only in secondary schools.)
Teachers of Religious Education, ordinarily should be Catholics who:
- were accredited or registered as accredited teachers of Religious Education in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga or another Australian Diocese prior to 31 December 2011; or those who are deemed to hold equivalent qualifications; or
- have complied with the 2001 Diocese of Wagga Wagga Policy, through attainment of the equivalent of four undergraduate units in Religious Education/Theology at a Catholic institution, provided these units were commenced prior to 2012; or
- have completed six undergraduate units Religious Education/Theology in an undergraduate teaching degree at a Catholic institution (if undergraduate study commenced from the beginning of 2013 or afterwards); or
- have undertaken four postgraduate units in Theology and/or Religious Education in an approved Catholic program at a tertiary institution. (Category D – Accreditation to teach Religious Education in the Wagga Wagga Diocese)
Prayer and Sacramental life
There are regular opportunities for prayer and worship through daily prayer, assembly gatherings and celebrations of Mass, both at class and whole-school level, as well as the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“Living the life of Jesus Christ implies… a living spirituality and authentic morality, strengthened by the word of God in Scripture and celebrated in the Sacraments of the Church” (Ecclesia in Oceania, 2001, 8).
The Catholic school community witnesses to the Good News of Jesus Christ and proclaims the Word through confident and active participation in a wide variety of prayer forms which are creative and inclusive. The experience of prayer in schools is integral to and a regular part of the daily routine. The routine of prayer includes a balance of: vocal prayer, meditation and contemplation.
An authentic Catholic school community celebrates and lives the Sacraments. Since the Mass is the source and summit of the faith, it is to be celebrated in a way which enables the full, active and conscious participation of the assembly. Catholic school communities continue Jesus’ mission of healing through celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation and engaging in practices that promote forgiveness and the restoration of right relationships. Sacraments of initiation are a ministry of the Parish that teachers in the school lead in collaboration with parents and the parish priest.
Catholic schools in the diocese of Wagga Wagga are faith communities that participate in God’s mission of creating a just and peaceful world; building the Kingdom of God. This approach to justice is understood in the context of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and Catholic Social Teaching. The Catholic school community is to be animated by the Gospel spirit of freedom and charity; upholding the dignity of the human person as sacred and social through the subjects taught and the life and culture of the school.
The Catholic school is a community that fosters dialogue with people of all religions, no religion and with all cultures. In Jesus Christ, Catholic schools have the basis of their human and educational project; they practise authentic dialogue as a profound way of relating to others.
Catholic school communities operate in an atmosphere of solidarity with all human beings and all of creation. As Christians, we understand and appreciate the interrelatedness of all creation and know creation as a gift from God which requires equitable sharing and wise stewardship. Therefore, Catholic schools have a moral imperative to practice decision making that is ecologically and ethically sustainable.
We have a focus on practical community outreach and support for Catholic agencies such as Caritas Australia (Project Compassion in Lent), the St Vincent de Paul Society (Winter and Christmas Appeals) and Catholic Mission (especially leading to October, which is Mission Month).
Many schools have ‘Mini Vinnies’ or a secondary social justice group, or conduct mission project events. Students across the Diocese participate in the primary and secondary days exploring social justice issues and supporting each other in social justice projects.
The quality of care and relationships among all people in the school community should be a practical expression of the way we imitate Jesus. We call this ‘pastoral care’ because it reminds us of how the Good Shepherd, Jesus, cares for us. Our Diocese engages in pastoral care in numerous ways.
Making Jesus Real – MJR
The Making Jesus Real programme is centred around the belief that we are the image of Jesus to all those people around us. We are His representatives and our actions should reflect His values. Jesus also made the comment that we are part of his family and that the ways we treat others should be reflective of the way we would treat Jesus.
“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” – Matthew 25: 40
The program is aligned with Religious Education programmes and Values Education programmes throughout Australia. It calls on students “to work for peace, justice and the promotion of the common good of society” (Good News for Living, 2005, p. 110). The National Framework for Values Education in Australian schools (2005) states that all schools should be “ensuring values are incorporated into school policies and teaching programmes across the key learning areas”‘ (p. 3).
These include the values of:
- showing care and compassion
These values also encourage students to do their best, treat others fairly, be responsible for their actions, follow principles of moral and ethical conduct and to stand up for the rights of others (Paving the way to Values Education, 2005, p. 2). The Making Jesus Real programme fully supports these values.
Seasons for growth in school
Some of our schools and colleges offer Seasons for Growth, a program for children, young people or adults who have experienced significant change or loss. Seasons for Growth is based on the belief that change, loss, and grief are a normal and valuable part of life. Participants in the program examine the impact of changes such as death, separation, divorce, and natural disaster upon their lives, and explore how they can learn to live with and grow from these experiences.
The core intentions of this program are the development of resilience and emotional literacy to promote social and emotional wellbeing. The program is educational in nature and does not provide therapy. It uses the imagery of the four seasons to illustrate that grief is cyclical, not a linear journey with a clear end.
Trained “Companions” facilitate small groups where participants share their experiences, and support and learn from one another. Peer support is a key element of the program, and confidentiality is strongly emphasised. Good Grief has developed a program to support students who have experienced natural disasters.
Restorative Practice is a whole school approach to building policies and processes which focus on the three core values of compassion, inclusiveness, and forgiveness.
This program, developed by Marist Youth Care, provides schools with a framework of management that moves away from the traditional punitive response. It establishes a philosophy and a set of practices that reflect a commitment to inclusiveness and collaborative problem-solving. It is the daily living of these values that is the platform for continually developing restorative relationships in all that we do for the students in our care.
The principles of Restorative Practices:
- Foster awareness in the student of how others have been affected.
- Avoid scolding or lecturing.
- Involve the student actively.
- Accept ambiguity.
- Separate the deed from the doer.
- See every serious instance of wrongdoing and conflict as an opportunity for learning.
- Restorative practices must be systemic, not situational.
The Restorative School believes in the “Three R’s” –
Accreditation to Work, Teach and Lead in Catholic Education in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga
All those who work in Catholic schools or in the Catholic Education office in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga must be accredited according to the respective position held by staff of the Diocesan Schools System.
The Policy for Accreditation of Staff to Work in Catholic Education in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga affirms the mutual obligations of the Catholic Schools Office to provide or appropriately subsidise staff attainment of Catholic Education accreditation and the responsibility of the staff to undertake and maintain Catholic Education accreditation.
This accreditation policy parallels policies in all dioceses in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. There are various ways in which staff members may acquire and maintain the required level of accreditation for his/her role in the Diocesan Schools System.
One option for staff to attain Accreditation to teach Religious Education is outlined in Accreditation to teach Religious Education Option.
Connections is a suite of programs which we have developed for all staff in our primary and secondary schools. Each program will cater for a specific group of people. The programs release staff from their usual duties to allow them to come away and reflect on who they are and their call to serve within Catholic Schools.
Come and See is a program for teachers in their second year of teaching. The program focuses on the mission of Catholic Education and the mission of the teacher in a Catholic school. Teachers who attend gain Accreditation to Teach in a Catholic School (Category B).
Come Follow Me is a program for staff members who have worked in our schools for six to eight years. The program is designed to give participants an opportunity to ‘catch their breath’, reflect on their experience so far in our schools and deepen their understandings.
I Have Chosen You is a program specifically designed for members of school communities who have given many years of service to Catholic education. It is designed to be a ‘thank you’ and allow participants to reflect on their achievements.
I Call You Friends is for staff who are in their 10th – 24th year of service. Participants engage in activities that will nourish their personal growth in spirituality while allowing time for reflection and renewal.
Treasure in Earthen Vessels is for school and CSO personnel engaged in Catholic Education in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga. Participants engage in activities that nourish their personal growth in spirituality while exploring the concept and impact of missionary discipleship personally and as a school community.
Our Faith Story
The school’s Faith Story is known and celebrated and there are strong Parish & Diocesan Connections
Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.(CCC 799)
“The ideal partnership between parish and school gives witness to collaborative practices which further the evangelising mission of the Church.” (Continuing the Adventure, Bishop Hanna’s Mandate To All Involved in Catholic Schools)
The Catholic school’s particular Faith Story is celebrated by staff, students and parents. While honouring the charism and particular legacy of faith of the founders, the school continues to grow as a living community which reflects God’s presence and purpose in the world.
Parish info and connection, Inclusive partnership overview
When your child goes to a Catholic school you are enrolling in a Catholic community that is bigger than the school. Your Catholic school is part of a parish, or in the case of a secondary school, a group of parishes.
By accepting your child’s enrolment the parish community is committing itself to the formation of your family in the faith. We invite you and your family to participate in the life of your parish so that your family becomes part of the worshipping community.
Our schools are part of its parish or parishes. The Parish Priest and other clergy are involved regularly to support you as first educators of your children in faith. Your family is invited into the parish faith community through the school.
The Catholic school is integral to the local Parish and responsive to the leadership of the Diocese of Wagga Wagga. The ideal partnership between parish, families, diocese, and school gives witness to collaborative practices which further the evangelising mission of God entrusted to the Church.
Find a parish near you by visiting Catholic Diocese of Wagga Wagga
Plenary Council 2020
The Plenary Council is a meeting of the entire Church in Australia, meaning everyone—bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful—with the intention of
shaping the future course of the Catholic Church in this country. And while if won’t affect matters of doctrine, it will have legislative power to mould practices within the Australian Catholic Church. So, as a Catholic, the outcome of the meeting will most definitely affect you.
In theory, everyone will be allowed a voice. The word “Plenary” simply means “entire” or “open”.
Through Plenary 2020, the Catholic Church in Australia will determine its structures and strategies for the future. And this, of course, will affect its mission of evangelisation—how it will spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in a culture increasingly adverse to Christian values.
There really couldn’t be a more pressing matter of consideration for Catholics in Australia at this point in time. And this is a theme that Pope Francis has emphasised—how do we evangelise in a culture moving rapidly away from the Christian worldview?
The Listening and Dialogue Encounter can happen in many ways. You can get a few of your friends and family together at a time and place that suits you. Additionally, your local parish or Catholic school, your Catholic workplace or the local Diocese might host an evening and invite people along.
To find out more about this process and to have your say, visit plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au.