Special Religious Educators (SRE/Catechists) travelled from all parts of this diocese to celebrate Eucharist at Padre Pio Parish Glenmore Park where Fr Chris Antwi- Boasiako hosted the 2016 Diocesan Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Mass on Friday October 21.
Cecilia Zammit now Director of CCD Parramatta, welcomed the Clergy and more than 600 people assembled for this celebration. This was Bishop Vincent Long’s first opportunity to meet and greet the catechists- women and men who each week go into 200 local state schools to share their faith and the love of God.
In his homily Bishop Vincent announced that the church is moving beyond a clerical structure to the ‘arrival of the age of the laity’ with core responsibility in the building of the community. Bishop Vincent said ‘The signs of the times talked about in the Gospel today are a source of new hope and that armed with the gospel we can be the face of Christ and ambassadors of his mercy. The hallmarks of our discipleship are faith, service and engagement.’
Student representatives from fifteen Catholic Colleges joined the Entrance Procession behind their school banners and the Jubilee Mercy Cross and relics were carried in by students of Caroline Chisholm College Glenmore Park and by Veronica and Frank Sultana. It was in fact Veronica who more than 14 years ago initiated the SRE program with students from Caroline Chisholm College. This ministry has now spread to twenty Catholic Colleges in the Diocese of Parramatta.
A very important part of this celebration was the presentation of Diocesan CCD Awards immediately after Mass. Bishop Vincent presented awards to catechists who had served the Church as SREs for 40 years (Sabine Harriss), 35 years (Cecilia Fanning and Margaret Ryan) and 30 years (Julie Daly, Lyn Burton, Clare Brcar, Mila Svehla and Laura Eid). Papal blessings (20 years service) were presented to June Brennen, Patricia Duncan, Lorraine Gordon, Maureen Jones, Bernadette Leccese, Maria Long, Peter Stapleton and Maureen Watts and SREs who had served for 25 years and 15 years were also recognised. Twelve SREs were conferred with Graduation Certificates for completing Level 3 Primary Training Course and 9 others were commended for their service as they retired from roles as Parish Coordinators.
Celebrations continued afterwards as catechists shared stories over lunch in the Bethany school hall.
As the number of schools in Western Sydney continue to grow each year, parishes are always interested to hear from anyone interested in joining this team of catechists or you can contact Maree at the CCD Office on 98904731 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Orientation and training are provided, and volunteers usually begin this ministry as helper SREs.