The school community of Caroline Chisholm College, Glenmore Park, have received a blessing for their 20 years of service to Special Religious Education (SRE).
Following the school’s end of year Mass at Padre Pio Parish, Glenmore Park, staff and students were presented with a Papal Blessing for their dedication to teaching the Catholic faith to children from Catholic families in nearby public schools.
“We are very proud of this achievement,” Leader of Religious Education, Bernadette Murray told Catholic Outlook. “The staff and students [of Caroline Chisholm College] over the last 20 years have made a lasting impact on the lives of many young people, bringing them the Good News and allowing them to know and experience God’s loving embrace.”
Each year, more than 30 Year 10 students are trained in the approved SRE curriculum so they can teach students in their local public school about Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith.
This year, Caroline Chisholm College had 54 students from Years 10 and 11 teaching SRE.
“Staff and students see this [ministry] as a perfect way of giving back and of participating in service. At Caroline Chisholm College we have a program called Caroline’s Footsteps and we encourage all members of the community to actively follow the example of that early Australian Caroline Chisholm who did so much to help others and to minister to their needs. At the heart of what she did was the message of the Gospel,” Ms Murray explained.
Year 10 student Julia said, “knowing that the kids are taking some knowledge about God with them throughout their life motivates me to give up my time each week to teach SRE.”
Fellow Year 10 student Christine added, “providing students with this invaluable experience, I find SRE highly rewarding in being a figure that has the potential to share knowledge regarding sacraments, prayer, and parables with children that may otherwise not have access to religious education.”
Cecilia Zammit, Director for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Diocese of Parramatta, addressed the school community during their Mass and noted, “there would be hundreds of students in local public schools who have received the Good News of Jesus over the years because of the ministry of the Caroline Chisholm students.
“We are grateful to Veronica Sultana and John Corrigan who suggested this ministry be extended to the college so many years ago.
“The Diocese of Parramatta is very proud of your efforts and are very grateful,” Cecilia said.
Ms Murray explained that it was an advantage that Caroline Chisholm students were sharing their faith with younger students.
“[There is] a genuine desire to teach younger people about their faith, and in doing so, enhance their own faith.
“Being closer to the age of the primary school students, our [student] catechists relate to them easily.
“They also reflect Catholicism as a living and dynamic faith that is not just for the older members of the community, but for the young as well.
“It enables the girls to live out their own faith and to be evangelisers as Jesus instructed us, ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,’” Ms Murray said.
Caroline Chisholm College was the first high school to have student SRE teachers, and since then, the program has spread to include 17 more Catholic colleges in the Diocese of Parramatta, and to other dioceses in NSW.