Catholic Identity - Leadership Developement

Graduate Certificate in Catholic Education

CESA continued its partnership with University of South Australia in delivering the Graduate Certificate in Education (Catholic Education) . There were 323 enrolments of CESA teachers in classes in 2020. The four courses (Christian Scriptures, Theology, Teaching Methodologies and Curriculum Design) were taught in a total of 17 classes by the Religious Education Team and University of South Australia personnel, in fully ‘blended’ study modes for the first time (a mix of face-to-face and online delivery). Christian Scriptures courses were offered in Mt. Gambier and Renmark; a Theology course was offered in Port Lincoln; Methods and Curriculum courses were offered in the Port Pirie Diocese.

The 132 teachers who completed the Christian Scriptures course had their course fee paid as part of the Study Incentive Program. By special arrangement between CESA and UniSA, no course fee applied to the other three courses, which are mostly presented by CESA consultants.

Course evaluation and feedback indicated that teachers valued the professional learning and formation offered through these courses; the links with classroom practice in Religious Education and other learning areas; the opportunity to develop learning communities and networks with colleagues from other schools and the deepened sense of the Catholic school’s purpose and mission.

The explicit nexus between the personal and professional aspects of Catholic school teaching and learning was also noted by course participants, who appreciated the formational aspects of their studies. With a renewed focus on Catholic identity, the courses also complemented the Enhancing Catholic School Identity Research initiative. Participants successfully adjusted to the blended study necessitated by Covid-19 and acknowledged the creative adaptation of the units in their course feedback. These four Catholic Studies courses meet the CESA Teacher Accreditation higher education requirements.

Teacher Induction

Teachers new to CESA are required to attend a two-day induction module as part of Teacher Accreditation. Day 1 of this program is delivered by consultants within the Catholic Identity Section and focussed on Catholic mission and identity as well as some of the resources specific to CESA such as Crossways, the Made in the Image of God human sexuality education program, Catholic Social Teaching and the Being with God  prayer and liturgy resource. The participants were mainly early career teachers, however there were also some experienced teachers from other sectors and interstate. This year, one session was held in Pt Pirie in February and four multi-modal sessions were run in Adelaide with half of the program delivered in an online module, with the other half of the program delivered face to face.  The total number of participants was 196.

Catholic Professional Formation Allowances

In 2020, 128 teachers received Level 1 Catholic Professional Formation (CPF) Allowance; 49 teachers received a Level 2 CPF allowance and 374 teachers were paid Level 3 CPF allowance following successful completion of study in the Catholic studies domain as per the SA Catholic Education Enterprise Agreement. There was also one CEO staff member who received a CPF Level 1 Allowance and nine CEO staff members who received the CPF 3 allowance.

Professional Learning Workshops

In 2020 the REFF team facilitated 25 Professional Learning workshops in the religious domain. The courses varied greatly in content and presentation and were focused on scripture, theology, curriculum, methodology, religious leadership, spirituality and MITIOG. These workshops were a mixture of face to face workshops, online modules and via MS Teams. 684 people participated in these courses which were held during the school term, Saturdays and school holidays. There were also nine Crossways Implementation workshops held with a focus on the redesigned Crossways content with 259 teachers participating.

New ways with Crossways was a newly developed workshop for teachers to explore the redesigned Crossways and Now that I am teaching RE an introductory workshop for teachers new to teaching Religious Education.

Ecological Conversion Services

The work of the SACCS Ecological Advisory committee was assisted through the recruitment of a significant number of new members. There were particular working groups who focussed on the Ecological Conversion and Action Plan in the domains of Catholic Identity, Systems, Resources, Learning and Leadership. A digital networking and collaboration space was curated which was well utilised and allowed for a deepening of schools’ capacity to share resources and encourage the development of understandings in the area of ecological conversion.

Prayer and Liturgy Support

The REFF team continued to support schools in their delivery and understanding of prayer in ways that aligned to the CESA Being with God prayer and liturgy resource. This year the support was offered online where teachers and caregivers could access prayer and liturgy support through the tiles on the CESA online space.

Staff Spiritual and Religious Formation

The Staff Spiritual and Religious Formation (SSRF) team provided a range of formational experiences and programs designed to provide effective, localised and engaging formational opportunities for leaders of schools to lead spiritual and religious formation with their staff.  These opportunities were designed to support schools in staff formation which builds on the CESA framework for staff formation which is outlined in like a mustard seed: A CESA Stimulus and Foundation Paper for Staff Spiritual and Religious Formation.

There was the opportunity to run an overnight pilot program for early career teachers in 2020 catering to their needs in the domain of spiritual and religious formation which will be expanded into 2021.

In 2020, the programs Come to the water and Making nests were again offered after their inception in 2016. Due to COVID-19 restrictions these were converted into an online engagement for 2020. The Come to the water program is a reflective and contemplative experience once a term for school leaders accompanied by a consultant and a priest and often a spiritual director, placing a focus on participants’ personal life/faith journey. 

The Making nests program provides a professional and collaborative learning community to develop capability for planning and leading staff spiritual and religious formation. The program continued to facilitate and nurture participants’ encounter with God as well as time for resource sharing and time to reflect on faith formation experiences they have held with their staff. Participants engaged with the text A Wisdom way of Knowing by Cynthia Bourgealt as a touchstone for developing capabilities in cultivating opportunities for Wisdom in line with the new Crossways implementation.

The SSRF team continued to support school leaders in enhancing the Catholic identity of their schools through formation in leadership, prayer, scripture and theology. The team continued to develop tools and scaffolds for school leaders to be able to strategise and plan for staff formation, shared these at leaders’ gatherings and companioned and consulted with leadership teams to support their work. The team worked with individual school teams outside of the initiatives mentioned above as they planned staff spiritual and religious formation using the Continuous Improvement Framework for South Australian Catholic Schools. This work supported the CESA Strategy Corporate Plan 2018-2020 priority for all schools to be engaged in strengthening their Catholic Identity and the faith formation of their leaders and staff. In particular, the SSRF team focussed its work on the Plan’s Deliverable 1.2: Every school has discerned and implemented approaches to support staff spiritual and religious formation. The team particularly supported schools in planning and facilitating reflection days in a COVID-19 environment throughout 2020.

Family and Parish Based Catechesis

The Family and Parish Based Catechesis Office served and supported family and parish-based ministries with children through a variety of ongoing initiatives in 2020.  However, due to COVID-19 regulations and restrictions, sacrament programs for the initiation of children of catechetical age were ceased for most of the year.  Prior to and when the restrictions of COVID-19 were lifted, the Ooffice supported various individual parish/school sacrament teams to build and strengthen the collaborative partnerships between the parish and the school through mentoring of teams as well as through assistance given in updating or redesigning their current sacraments of initiation programs.  Assistance through mentoring parish sacrament teams to transition from a school-based to a parish-based sacrament program was given as well as preparation of a presentation for the Parents’ Gathering Meeting prior to registering for sacraments.

Following on from the request of Archbishop Philip Wilson in 2017 to gain an overview of the implementation of the Archdiocesan document Partnerships in Sacramental Catechesis:  The Pastoral Framework for the Sacramental Catechesis of Children, the office submitted to Bishop Gregory O’Kelly, Apostolic Administrator, the Sacrament Inquiry Report resulting from the consultation and analysis of the data which was finalised in December 2019.  This report was also submitted to Archbishop Patrick O’Regan in 2020. The Office also conducted and collated a survey amongst APRIMs/RECs within schools to ascertain school involvement in the parish sacrament program.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions which affected families ability to participate in Mass on Sundays,  the Office prepared Family Liturgies based on the Sunday gospel for each week of the year.  These were received well. 

The newsletter Children’s Ministry Update was published periodically and included a Making Connections resource for families and parishes. Through a collaboration with the Catholic Resource and Information Service (CRIS), further resources were added to the CRIS collection.

The office organised annual events at St Francis Xavier Cathedral: the Archdiocesan Commissioning Mass for Catechists and the Catholic Identity section members as well as the Blessing of the Cribs Mass. 

Youth Ministry – Adelaide Catholic Office for Youth and Young Adults

2020 proved to be a full and intense year of work for the Catholic Office for Youth and Young Adults (COYYA), beginning with the New Horizons Youth Ministry Leaders Conference. Youth ministry leaders from schools, parishes and communities across the Archdiocese of Adelaide gathered at St Mary’s College for a two-day conference which featured Jane Angha of Ministry Blueprints (USA), and several other local presenters. COYYA also held two Student Leaders gatherings for senior school leaders on the topics of Leadership for the world God desires and Leadership for resilience.

In response to the COVID-19 restrictions, COYYA developed an entirely new program and series of offerings for young people: online events – Pentecost youth vigil (30 May), mental health liturgy (21 June), Season of Creation (19 September), Pub Theology events and weekly live music performances from local young musicians. COYYA saw a significant increase in online interaction on our website, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram pages. Once restrictions eased, COYYA team members assisted several schools with retreats and days of reflection.

ArchD Radio grew in 2020 to encompass more schools, and developed several new podcast series for schools, Catholic Education Office projects and the Archdiocese of Adelaide.

COYYA Coordinator Peter Bierer was selected by the Australian Catholic Bishops to represent Australian youth ministry leaders at the International Youth Meeting in Rome which was held online. The forum was a continuation of the 2018 Synod of Bishops in Rome and planning meeting for the upcoming World Youth Day in Lisbon in 2023.

COYYA continued to support the Council for Ministry for Young People which met monthly to focus the strategic direction of youth ministry throughout the Archdiocese of Adelaide.

Catholic Resource and Information Service

The Catholic Resource & Information Service (CRIS) supports the mission of parishes, schools, church agencies and the Catholic community with the provision of resources.

In 2020, the challenges of COVID 19 included the temporary closure of the service to in-person borrowers browsing the shelves. It was possible for lending to be continued with borrowers requesting resources online or over the phone then collecting prepared parcels. Returned items were quarantined for two weeks before being returned to the shelf. On re-opening, signage regarding safe capacity with social distancing, and a sanitising station were added to allow COVID-safe browsing.

Another COVID-19 challenge saw the CRIS resources budget severely reduced. Despite this, with new resources and a substantial quantity of donated books, 402 bibliographic records were added to the CRIS collection raising holdings to 31,902 items in the areas of contemporary religious education, liturgical and sacramental practice, Scripture and theology, adult faith formation, pastoral care, Indigenous studies, contemporary issues and the needs of the Catholic and wider community. There were 8,358 borrowers registered with 1,278 of these involved in tertiary and Graduate Certificate study.

Planning for the inclusion of digital resources in the CRIS collection and to further improve online access for borrowers was begun in consultation with the ICT team.

University partnerships

In 2020 the CESA-University of South Australia partnership continued to educate and form pre-service teachers for their future roles as Catholic-school educators and religious leaders.

The two RE team staff seconded to UniSA (1.6 FTE) coordinated and taught the four Catholic Studies courses, offered to both undergraduate and postgraduate pre-service teachers at the Mawson Lakes and Magill campuses: Christian Scriptures, Theology, Contemporary Catholic Schools and Religious Education. First semester courses moved into fully online mode in the wake of COVID-19; face-to-face seminars and blended learning were restored in second semester.

These four courses are usually taken as a minor sequence in Education programs, which then qualifies pre-service teachers to teach Religious Education in Catholic schools. The sequence also meets the CESA Teacher Accreditation higher education requirements.

Formal student evaluation of these courses continued to highlight deep student engagement with the knowledge, skills and dispositional aspects. Student course evaluations emphasised the impact of the formative dimension of their studies, especially the ways in which new learnings and insights touched and shaped their faith and life perspectives. Many commented on these aspects as clarifying and deepening their vocational approach to the role of Catholic educator. Students frequently identified Catholic Studies as their favourite university subject.

Two important new developments in the undergraduate educational space were the introduction of Religious Education (Catholic Studies) as a primary specialisation in the Bachelor of Education (Primary) program and as a sub-major in the new Bachelor of Education (Secondary) program. These subjects are now specialism options for pre-service teachers aiming to work in CESA schools; the new format broadens their study in theology, scripture and religious education.

The Graduate Certificate in Education (Catholic Education) continued to be an integral aspect of the CESA partnership with UniSA. As in previous years, the seconded CESA staff also collaborated with the UniSA School of Education’s Professional Experience Office in the placement and mentoring of pre-service teachers in Catholic schools.

The REFF team continued in its collaboration with the Adelaide campus team of the Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Faculty of Philosophy and Theology (situated on the CEO’s Thebarton site). The REFF team continued to work with the People, Leadership and Culture Section with CESA’s partnership with the ACU to develop new ways of supporting teachers and leaders accessing Masters courses offered by the ACU, particularly those in Educational Leadership, Theological Studies and Religious Education. The CESA-ACU partnership was evidenced in many ways in 2020, including its favourable theological review of the redesigned Crossways curriculum.

National School Chaplaincy Program

CESA funded 68 schools in 2020 with the Federal Government funded and State administered National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP).  The REFF team provided the administration of this program for CESA schools, which included calling for and processing applications for funding toward the employment of school chaplains, youth ministers and where appropriate, pastoral care workers. Support was also given for the School Chaplaincy Network, which provided professional learning and support for people employed in these positions. 

Of the 68 CESA schools which received NSCP grants: eleven received $6,000, 28 received $9,000 and 27 received $12,000.  Three schools received a 20% remote school loading afforded by the Program.  The total of CESA NSCP school grants for 2020 was $660,700.

In addition to this funding, the Australian Government offered extra funding through the NSCP for schools affected by the 2020 bushfires.  Three CESA schools were identified as being affected by the bushfires and they each received an additional $5,181, with two of these schools being existing NSCP schools.

All 68 schools funded in 2020 expressed that they intend to continue in the program for 2021.