>Services & Agencies
The mission of the Church is to transform and renew people and their world through the power of the Gospel. The frontline of this mission is the Parish.
The fundamental vocation and mission of the Parish is to "be a place in the world community of believers, to gather together as a sign and instrument of the vocation of all to communion, in a word, to be a house of welcome and a place of service to all." (Pope John Paul II)
The religious dimension of education is one way in which this mission is carried out. The Parish has a responsibility to assist parents in providing a Catholic education for their children according to their circumstances. For those who cannot or do not attend Catholic schools, SRE or 'Scripture', as it is popularly known, provides a religious dimension in State schooling which contributes to a Catholic formation.
SRE teachers offer the genuinely human values of the Gospel as a contribution to the personal developments of students. The critical perspective of faith which they present contributes to the education of the students. SRE teachers or catechists assist the Parish Priest to fulfil his obligations in Religious Education, and assist and support parents in their responsibility.
SRE teachers provide an integral dimension which would be missing from the schooling of more than half our Catholic students in the Diocese of Broken Bay, without them.
"...Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples..."
The Story of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD)
In Canon Law, a confraternity is a voluntary association of the faithful, established and guided by ecclesiastical authority for the promotion of special works of Christian charity and piety. The special work of our Confraternity is the religious instruction of Catholic children attending Government schools.
Confraternities of Christian Doctrine were set up in the Post Reformation period, when Catholic schools had not come into general usage. They commenced in Italy, where an organisation of lay people undertook the task of instructing children in the truths of the faith.
In 1905 Pope Pius X ordered that a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine be set up in every parish in the world. This decree has been incorporated in Canon Law. This Church law was acted upon and grew rapidly in the United States of America, where there was no provision for teaching religion in other than church schools, which were few in number.
In Australia early this century, most Catholic children attended church schools and the number attending Government schools did not warrant a fully established confraternity, although there were lay catechists attending some schools. These children were also catered for by lay people, especially the Theresian Association, who conducted Sunday and afternoon classes.
However, there was a huge influx of immigrants to our country during the post World War II period and Father Kevin McGovern was asked in 1958 to look into this situation and do some experimental work. This having been done, it was essential that a competent committee be set up to organise and train catechists to meet the needs of the Archdiocese of Sydney.
In 1959, His Eminence Cardinal Gilroy commissioned the then Bishop James Freeman to set up a working model for the commencement of the 1960 school year. A group of four priests under the leadership of Father R. Davey formed a committee to establish the CCD. An appeal was made and responded to by 600 untrained men and women.
The Sisters of St Joseph had a series of lesson leaflets, which Sr Peter Dwyer RSJ (Sr. Kathleen) had written for a correspondence lesson scheme for country children. The Sisters put these at the disposal of the Confraternity. In February 1961, the first Diploma Course was established and the first Diploma 1 certificates presented on April 25, 1961. The course was held in eight centres of the Archdiocese.
Much hard work was put into this project by all concerned, but they were rewarded to see its rapid growth, of which all Catechists are now a part.
People in SRE
In the Parish
By reason of his office of pastoral leadership of the Parish, the Parish Priest has the responsibility of providing a Catholic education according to circumstances to assist parents in fulfilling their responsibility. It is also his responsibility to provide Christian formation of young adults and children. The parish priest authorises SRE teachers to go into Government schools in his Parish. There is an official syllabus approved by the Bishop for the Diocese of Broken Bay, which is to be taught by all SRE teachers in the Diocese; the Parish Priest is responsible for providing these approved teaching materials. The Parish Priest is the director of the CCD in his parish.
Parish Catechist Co-ordinator
This person undertakes the leadership of the day to day matters relating to planning and teaching SRE in the Parish. The Parish Catechist Co-ordinator is responsible to the Parish Priest for recruitment, authorisation documents, convening and chairing meetings, selecting, supporting and planning classes.
All SRE teachers are authorised by the Parish Priest to teach approved teaching materials to Catholic students in Government schools.
The classroom helper is a member of the Parish Catechist Team. As volunteers they also have to be authorised by the Parish Priest. They have agreed to help the Catechist in the classroom or perhaps they are new SRE teachers who prefer to assist another teacher until they feel more confident. They may assist in small groups when classes are large, help students who have difficulty finishing their work, correct books and prepare resources.
Parish School Delegate
Where there are several schools in a Parish, the Parish Catechist Co-ordinator may appoint one SRE teacher to be the contact person to keep the catechists informed and disseminate resources, letters and information.
In the Diocese
The Regional Support Co-ordinators are among the personnel whom the Diocese appoints to co-ordinate various Special Religious Education positions. They visit Parishes and schools in their Region to assist the Parish Catechist Co-ordinators. They are responsible for the training and support of the catechist teams.
The Diocesan CCD Co-ordinator has the responsibility to ensure the implementation, monitoring and development of all CCD guidelines relating to the CCD Apostolate. The Diocesan CCD Co-ordinator reports to the PSU Director who has overall responsibility for Parish Support.
The Bishop, as the first catechist in the Diocese, is responsible for the content and principles that govern all Special Religious Education in the Diocese and for all the personnel, both in their training and appointment.
Formation and Training
The CCD offers a three level Certificate Course which covers classroom management, teaching method, child/adolescent development, the Scriptures, church and spirituality. Froom 2014 all beginning SRE teachers are required to attend a 7-unit CCD Ministry Induction.
In-services are offered to help the catechists in specific skills and reflection days are also planned throughout the year. Details can be obtained from the Parish Catechist Co-ordinator and the catechist newsletter "Connections" which is published once a term, or by going to the Upcoming Events page.
Format of CCD Catechist Course
To receive a Special Religious Education Diploma catechists complete Levels 1, 2 and 3 of the Training and Accreditation Program. Level 1 consists of 14 x 2hr presentations and Levels 2 & 3 consist of 12 x 2hr presentations. A certificate is awarded to those who complete Levels 1 and 2, with the Level 3 SRE Diploma being presented by the Bishop at the annual Diocesan Catechist Mass.
Information regarding dates, venues and times can be obtained from your Parish Catechist Co-ordinator or by going to the Training page.