Parent Faith
Project

The Parent Faith Project at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Pymble, is aimed at assisting parents in their role as primary faith educators by providing faith formation opportunies.

Summary of Learnings

The Principal of Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School Pymble, Mrs Carmel Healey, sought the assistance of Ms Virginia Ryan, a member of the Mission Services Team, to initiate and support parent faith formation.

The program devised was aimed at assisting parents in their role as primary faith educators through firstly, providing them with an opportunity for faith formation themselves and secondly, through building their confidence and capacity to be actively involved in the prayer and faith life of their children.
 

It was thought that it was optimal to aim the program for parents of Year One students as this was an opportunity to engage or re-engage parents in conversations about their role as spiritual leaders of their families prior to commencing their involvement in the parish sacramental program (largely when students enter year 2).

This program was envisioned as a first phase before participation in the parish sacramental program.
 

The program was devised by Virginia Ryan following consultation with the principal and three parents. From these consultation meetings, clear directions emerged in terms of what topics and time frame best suited parents. The parents wanted sessions which would directly relate to their lives as parents of primary school aged children.

The sessions were designed to provide ‘bite-sized’ spiritual concepts applicable to their lives. Each session identified ‘homework’, the application of concepts in practices to be tried during the following week. This was reviewed each week as parents tried out new ideas and news ways of dealing with everyday family life with the goal of enriching family life.
 

A four week program of prayer titled ‘Coffee, Cake and Carmel’ was facilitated at Sacred Heart, Pymble with the aim of developing parents’ understanding and appreciation of the concept of spiritual gratitude.

It was accessible, relevant and founded on a solid understanding of the need to develop gratitude as the basis for faith formation. The Principal’s support was essential to the programs success, with childcare being offered to participants and morning tea provided.
 

The time selected for the program was also suited to participants as it was held at a time convenient to parents. The program was structured as four stand-alone modules that enabled continuing participation even if one or more sessions were missed.

The Parish Priest Fr Zyggy Wloczek, also committed to connecting with parents and journeying with them where they are, suggested a retreat for parents.
 

Again consultation with parents, listening to their needs, led to the development of a retreat for mothers providing them an opportunity to spend a day away from the busyness of their daily lives as they were feeling exhausted by the constant demands of working, mothering and caring.

Again with the support of the two parish Catholic School Principals (Mrs Carmel Healey and Mrs Sue Host) and Ms Virginia Ryan (Mission services) this idea was realised.

The retreat was promoted as an opportunity for mothers who did know each other but shared a common spiritual hunger and desire for rest. St Canisius’ College, Pymble was booked as the retreat venue and Mrs Sally Longley, a specialist in the spirituality of motherhood was engaged to lead the day of retreat.
 

The retreat plan included sessions titled The nourishment of rest, The cup of nourishment and included a clay making activity.

Summary of Learnings

  •  “Coffee, Cake and Carmel” spirituality mornings were developed in consultation with parents, the School Principal (Mrs Carmel Healey) and the Catholic Schools Office (Ms Virginia Ryan)

 

  • The content of the sessions was developed to resonate with the everyday lives of parents
     
  • Babysitting was offered
     

Catholic Diocese of
Broken Bay

Building 2, 423 Pennant Hills Road
Pennant Hills NSW 2120

PO Box 340
Pennant Hills NSW 1715

Phone 02 9847 0000
Fax 02 9847 0001
news@dbb.org.au

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