Working together in mission

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21 July 2023

Staff from St Charles Borromeo School, Templestowe, St Gregory the Great School, Doncaster, and St Kevin’s School, Templestowe Lower, came together for a special day of professional learning about the theme of ‘working together in mission’.

At the end of 2022, the principals of the three schools (Miranda Zuzic, Michelle Verna and Gabriella Leone) began meeting fortnightly with their parish priest, Fr Charles Balnaves. Together they explored the possibilities of connecting staff across the three schools through faith development.

The outcome was the planning of a staff spirituality day held at St Charles Borromeo School. Staff from the three schools were surveyed in order to gauge differing points of understanding and the data gathered was used to plan the day. Staff were asked the following questions:

  • To what extent do you feel confident engaging in theological dialogue?
  • To what extent do you feel confident to engage learners deeply with the wisdom of the Catholic tradition?
  • To what extent do you feel confident to lead discussions regarding religious questions and interpretations of the world?

The schools’ Religious Education leaders (Michelle Cameron, Vicki De Leo and Fulvia Gerosolimo) worked closely with Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) Religious Education Learning Consultant, Stephen Nash, to plan the day and engage with presenters to facilitate workshops for staff.

professional learning workshopWorkshop 1: Prue Vanstan
Looking at art pieces depicting each school saint. Unpacking the spirituality of each of the pieces and how art can open up the presence of God in our lives.

Workshop 2: Anni Miers
An overview of the origin of St Kevin, the connection to Celtic spirituality and how this comes together in the beautiful environment of Glendalough. The story of St Kevin as a hermit points us towards the deeper symbolism of his strong connection with nature, animals and the internal spiritual environment. This symbolism is deeply rooted in Celtic spirituality and is reflected in the unique Irish-Catholic Christianity.

Workshop 3: Michelle Cameron, Vicki De Leo, Fulvia Gerosolimo and Claire Forbes
God made us as physical beings, not just mental and emotional beings. Meditation gives your mind, body and soul the opportunity to connect with yourself in the present moment through awareness of your own body. Participants were given meditation experiences to take back to their classrooms.

Workshop 4: Loredana Guinane
Gregorian chant is attributed to Pope Gregory. In this workshop, we explored the ‘Our Father’ in plain song, as well as later versions. We also explored mantra-style music and its connection to the human spirit.

professional learning workshopWorkshop 5: Helena Goldsmith
Both St Gregory and St Kevin were monks, and the monastic tradition explores work in daily life as a form of prayer in itself. This workshop explored how life at school and the work of our teachers can be prayerful.

Workshop 6: Ana Saro
How does the average person embed their faith in the everyday? In an increasingly volatile world, how do we bring faith into focus? This session explored the simple truths of following a faith-driven life in a post-COVID world.

Workshop 7: Fr Charles Balnaves
Scripture: Jesus praying in the garden. The story of Jesus on the Mount of Olives is about placing our life with God, listening to God and our heart. Jesus witnesses to the disciples about praying and how prayer strengthens us.

Workshop 8: Helena Goldsmith
Spirituality of learning and the vocation of teaching. This workshop explored not only the awe and wonder of learning, an entree into the world of God, but also the vocation of opening up the world to young people.

The staff spirituality day provided a stepping stone towards connecting the three schools and was an opportunity for staff to grow in their comfort with talking about their faith. This professional learning day will be used as a springboard to further explore new concepts and understandings which staff will be able to unpack and share across the schools.