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BBI hosts launch of pivotal new book on Catholic education

5 May 2017 | General Interest

Senior leaders from Catholic education across Australia have gathered for the launch of a pivotal new book in Sydney which is expected to help shape the direction of Catholic schools in the country over coming years.

The book, Intentional Faith Communities in Catholic Education (published by St Pauls Publications) is written by the internationally respected theologian and anthropologist, Rev Dr Gerald A. Arbuckle and examines the challenges faced by Catholic schools in Australia in an increasingly secularised society.

Principals  joined with senior leaders from Catholic schools offices for the launch of the book hosted by BBI- The Australian Institute of Theological Education, on Thursday 4 May at the Polding Centre offices of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to academic research and teaching in the fields of theology and anthropology over many decades, Dr Arbuckle was presented by BBI with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Practical Theology.The award was personally presented by one of Australia’s leading theologians, Professor Neil Ormerod from the Australian Catholic University, who played a pivotal role in the establishment of BBI in 2003.

Dr Arbuckle’s book features 24 practical recommendations of direct relevance to Catholic school leaders aimed at ensuring their schools are communities where the faith thrives and is effectively witnessed.

“Leaders in Catholic education  have a genuine responsibility to be very clear about the purpose and mission of the Catholic school as an intentional faith community, based firmly on the example of Jesus Christ”, he told the gathering.

“Through that mission, Catholic school leaders, particularly our principals, have a strong responsibility to personally mould the culture and mission of their schools, which are one of the core faith communities of our times”.

Intentional Faith Communities in Catholic Education is the second in a new series of books in the Educating Hearts series, in which experts explore the key characteristics of Catholic mission and identity.

“This collection of real success stories will enhance and inspire all educators that much good can be done by individuals when we allow ourselves time to plan, dream and pray of what could be done” explained the Principal of Xavier College in Melbourne, Dr Chris Hayes.

The Commissioning Editor of the book series, BBI’s Academic Dean, Professor Anthony Maher said the series was aimed at helping Catholic schools stay true to their mission in challenging times.

“It’s all about educating with the heart, head and hand and moving away from a pure focus on Key Performance Indicators that can risk neglecting our central mission to serve those entrusted to our care”, he explained.

In launching the book, the Headmaster of St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, Mr Ross Tarlinton said it captures the essence of what it means to be a leader in a Catholic school today.

“There is an enormous responsibility on Catholic school principals to ensure the faith mission of their school permeates all aspects of school life and they can’t achieve that goal if they aren’t personally committed to living out their own faith as well”, Mr Tarlinton explained.

“And if we aren’t genuine about that, we are as St Paul reminded us, simply like noisy gongs or clanging symbols”.

The Bishop of Toowooomba, Reverend Robert McGuckin, who was among the special guests, said he looked forward to promoting the book in his diocese.

“There are clear practical lessons here that Catholic educational leaders can draw upon as they are called to not only live as disciples, but to make disciples as well”, he said.

“Faith is witnessed by one’s actions and our students will quickly work out if we aren’t genuine about our faith”, Bishop McGuckin added.

Another guest at the book launch, the Chair of Faith Formation and Religious Education with the National Catholic Education Commission, Sr Elizabeth Dodds RSC said she believed the new book would influence generations of leaders in Catholic education in Australia.

“What this book fundamentally emphasises is that Catholic leaders have a clear responsibility to engage in the faith formation of their school community as a whole and that includes not only the students, but also the staff and the parents as well”, Sr Elizabeth said.

“And part of that longer term mission is linked to good succession planning so that current leaders are provided with strong enough faith formation to pass that on to future generations as well”.

Copies of the book are available online through St Pauls Publications Australia.

You can find a copy of Fr Gerald Arbuckle's acceptance speech here

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