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BBI hosts National Catholic Mission & Identity Symposium

6 November 2017 | General Interest

Catholic educational leaders in Sydney and Brisbane have benefited from a landmark professional symposium which explored one of the key challenges facing Catholic education in Australia today- that of promoting the mission and identity of the Catholic school in an increasingly secular society.

The Archbishop of Brisbane, Most Rev Mark Coleridge and the Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Vincent Van Long Nguyen OFM Conv were guest speakers at the National Catholic Mission & Identity Symposium, held on 18 October in Sydney and 26 October in Brisbane.

The two professional development events were enhanced by the involvement of not only the two well respected Church leaders, but also leading experts and writers in the field of religious education who offered practical insights to school staff which they can apply to their own professional contexts.


Dr Jill Gowdie who leads Mission, Formation and Leadership Services for Brisbane Catholic Education spoke about the practical challenges facing principals as facilitators of formation and in leadership succession planning.

The internationally respected theologian and anthropologist, Rev Dr Gerald Arbuckle shared some remarkable stories with the participants, illustrating how every member of an organisation can play an active part in shaping its Catholic mission and identity.

Fr Gerald shared the story of Maria, a canteen worker in a Catholic hospital who helped bring about cultural change through her efforts in convincing the hospital’s board that it was failing to abide by its mission statement to serve the disadvantaged.

“And as staff members in Catholic schools, you too can be agents for change, helping to ensure that the mission of your schools reflects the message of the Gospels”, he added.

BBI lecturer and well-respected author on religious education, Professor Therese D’Orsa spoke on the topic Doing Theology (Ourselves) for Mission while Education Officer in Religious Education with Catholic Education Melbourne, Ms Rina Madden spoke on RE and Leadership: Leading Learning Communities in Dialogue.

The Catholic Mission & Identity Symposium was also an opportunity to launch new books on Catholic education of practical relevance to school staff.

Dr Jill Gowdie’s new book, Stirring the Soul for Catholic Education examines the need for a fresh model of formation for Catholic educators that better responds to the needs of contemporary society.

The second book, An Educator’s Guide to Catholic Curriculum: Learning for ‘Fullness of Life', is written by the former Director of Catholic Education in Tasmania, Dr Patricia Hindmarsh. It offers practical strategies to help schools embrace a Catholic identity across all areas of the curriculum.

Participants in the National Catholic Mission & Identity Symposium remarked upon what a beneficial professional development and networking opportunity it was, with practical lessons learned to take back to their own professional settings.

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