Encountering the Sacred through Prayer and Christian Meditation collectives

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Catholic schools actively cultivate a sense of the sacredness of each day28 September 2021

Catholic schools actively cultivate a sense of the sacredness of each day, where God is present, ready to meet us in ordinary moments. The Encountering the Sacred initiative from Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) is supporting schools to cultivate openness to encounter and a sense of the sacred through Catholic prayer practices.

Across the Archdiocese of Melbourne, 54 schools have established 19 groups through Prayer and Christian Meditation collectives. In this edition, leaders from Holy Saviour Parish School, Vermont South, and St Bridget’s School, Balwyn North, share stories of collaborating in prayer.

‘Our school is committed to the frequent practice of meditation and contemplation. Teachers are looking for ways to include Christian Meditation in their classrooms. We are looking to build a stronger culture of prayer within the school community which will lead the children and their families to a greater personal closeness and connectedness to God’, said Holy Saviour principal, Steve Evans.

St Bridget’s principal, Robyn Thomson, said she ‘aims to strengthen the capacity for teachers to deliver an engaging Religious Education curriculum and pedagogy which encourages students to explore their own questions and ideas of faith in the context of their lived experience’.

‘As a collective we were guided through imaginative contemplation by the Catholic Mission and Identity team at MACS using Scripture’, Mr Evans said. ‘The strategy of imaginative contemplation was a gentle approach to exploring a deeper meaning to the gospel. The process was not rushed and there was time to reflect, allowing for meaningful connections to be made’, Ms Thomson added.

Mr Evans said staff at Holy Saviour ‘were open to the experience and engaged wholeheartedly. After the prayer, [they] were very positive about the experience and were happy to share how it affected them’. After being led through the process, staff at both schools were excited to share imaginative contemplation with their students.

Religious Education leader at St Bridget’s, Margaret Maher, said: ‘the students were curious to try imaginative contemplation and were instantly engaged, knowing there was opportunity for them to share their own ideas. The strategy helped the students to feel safe and free to share their thoughts, knowing there were no right or wrong answers’.

Ms Thomson added: ‘our journey in this space is only just beginning. The opportunity that emerged for us is the power that comes from working with knowledgeable others in the area of Religious Education such as the staff from MACS, as well as working with staff from another school in the sharing of practice. We look forward to more opportunities to work collaboratively with these partners through the Prayer Collective’.

This article originally appeared in the Term 3 edition of Catholic Education Today.