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Faith formation vital in early years

TEACHERS at Catholic schools should not only teach the faith, but should be visible witnesses to it, a leading educator told the 15th annual Call to Holiness Conference in Brisbane last weekend.

Catholic Education Office Sydney religious education and evangelisation director Anthony Cleary made the comments during his speech at the conference focusing on the Second Vatican Council. About 100 people attended the conference dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the council.

It is the first time the conference has not used a papal encyclical as the theme. Organisers for this year’s conference instead chose to shed light on the significance of the Second Vatican Council.

The conference speakers included Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous, Albury parish priest Fr Joel Wallace, Sydney’s Good Shepherd Seminary dean of studies Dr Isabelle Naumann, Mr Cleary and New Evangelisation Sydney head Robert Haddad.

Fr Wallace explained how the world needed the message of joy and hope found in what was “the most difficult” of four apostolic constitutions, Gaudium et Spes. He said the Church needed once more to proclaim the message of salvation.

Dr Naumann explained the principal document from the council, Lumen Gentium, known as the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.

Archbishop Porteous said with numerous interpretations of the council “one has to look at the documents and writings of the popes who followed the close of the council”. He also explored The Nature of Tradition, and how it is “a living reality empowered by the Holy Spirit”.

“As a consequence we are now discovering truth in a new way,” he said. “The truth is the same but its expression is different in every age. The living truth captivates us and in that we have a treasure to offer – we feel impelled to offer the treasure to others.”

Mr Cleary and Mr Haddad gave examples of how to offer these “treasures” in education and through new evangelisation.

Mr Cleary said the right to education was a “fundamental human right”. He said the right to education did not spring solely from the fact education could help students to realise their full potential, but it also proceeded from their already existing dignity, a dignity arising from their being made in the image of God.

Parents were the primary teachers of their children and in their first formative years it is so necessary that parents form their children in the faith, so that when they came to school, teachers could build upon this formation, he said. He said teachers at Catholic schools should not only teach the faith, but should also be visible witnesses of the faith.

Mr Haddad said all Catholics were called to the new evangelisation, but stressed that it should be “one to one”.  He said Catholics were all called by virtue of their baptism to make “the message of salvation known and accepted by all men throughout the world”.

Written by: Emilie Ng
Catholic Church Insurance

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