By Amanda Murthy
Inspiring students through the proclamation of the Gospel, especially in an education environment, was the key message delivered by Monsignor Alessandro D’Errico in his homily, during a Mass held in conjunction with the First International Conference on Catholic Religious Education.
Held over four days at the Catholic Archbishop’s Seminary in Rabat, Malta, from February 7 to 11, the event attracted around 90 academics and scholars in Religious Education (RE) from England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, United States of America and Australia.
Several Western Australian academics, including representatives from the University of Notre Dame (UNDA), Fremantle, the Catholic Institute of Western Australia, and Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) were also in attendance.
Other Australian attendees included Professor Jan Grajczonek, Dr Rose Duffy csb, Professor Richard Rymarz, Professor Peta Goldburg and Dr Paul Sharkey.
Organised by editors of the publication, Global Perspectives on Catholic Religious Education in schools, Associate Professor Michael Buchanan from the Australian Catholic University, together with Professor Adrian-Mario Gellel from the University of Malta in collaboration with the La Salle Academy for Faith Formation and Religious Education. The conference was also supported by the Maltese Ministry of Education.
UNDA’s Prof Chris Hackett, who carried out one of the sessions entitled ‘Engagement in Religious Education’, centred his session on spiritual and religious capabilities. He also shared an insightful presentation on the practises of RE Curriculum in WA schools.
CEWA RE Consultant Antonella Poncini, who also attended the Conference and is a PHD undergraduate, shed light on WA’s perspective of teaching and assessing RE in Catholic schools in her presentation entitled ‘Perceptions of Large-scale, Standardised Testing in Religious Education.’
This topic focused on the findings of her research about teachers and school leaders of RE working in WA Catholic schools and their perceptions of the Bishops’ Religious Literacy Assessment (BRLA).
The BRLA is a curriculum based assessment which reflects and supports the progressive nature of the K-12 Religious Education Units. The assessment’s purpose is to equip individual schools with state wide evidence of student learning in RE.
Attendees of the conference had the opportunity to exchange ideas in a theological and educational dialogue session reflecting on the topics taking into consideration the Mission of the Church. They also gathered for Mass at St Paul’s Church celebrated by Msg D’Errico, who is the Apostolic Nuncio to Malta.