By Amanda Murthy
Catholic leaders and religious educators from 20 Catholic schools across Western Australia gathered over the past three months to attend a series of workshops coordinated by The Catholic Institute of Western Australia (CIWA).
The Borromeo’s Way 20/20 “A Vision for Catholic Leaders” program (named after its patron Saint Charles Borromeo), was developed by CIWA and University of Notre Dame Senior Lecturer Dr John Topliss.
Speakers for the workshops included talks by CIWA Director Prof Dr Chris Hackett who spoke about being a Christ-centred leader, Adult Faith Formation coordinator and Dominican Sister Margaret Scharf OP spoke about the heart of a leader, and CIWA Coordinator for Teaching and Learning Damian Doyle shared on the importance of contemplative leadership.
Participants were also introduced to a new pedagogy for teaching Religious Education called “Saintly Play- using St Charles Borromeo” and Brother Olly Pickett, from the Wheelchairs for Kids workshop spoke about the importance of the initiative.
Dr Topliss explained that The Borromeo’s Way program originally formed as part of his recent doctoral studies on Mentoring in Catholic Education at The University of Notre Dame.
“The program uses a ‘Head, Heart and Hands‘ model, [more than] 20 principals and leaders of Catholic schools have explored their roles by examining how they as key leaders integral to Catholic Christian formation, using a practical humble approach to leadership,” he stated.
This humble approach, Dr Topliss explained, was a unique opportunity for the participants to make wheelchairs for children with the guidance of Br Pickett.
“The last workshop held on 9 August at Br Olly Pickett’s Wheelchairs for Kids workshop in Wangara, provided a very practical way on how the hands of the leader may enable a leader to use more humility in their leadership which coincidentally was St Charles Borromeo’s motto ‘Humilitas’, he said.
“Br Pickett also reflected on the Hands part of the program by saying that ‘Through the generosity of Catholic Schools and Rotary International, the program has worked over the past 20 years by getting the cheelchairs to the kids who need them in over 40 countries worldwide, producing up to 400 wheelchairs a month”.
Dr Topliss added that the workshops ran in conjunction with another program run by Catholic Leaders who gather once a week for physical training under the coaching of Catholic School principals Sandro Coniglio, Mark Marando, Art Lombardi, and Chris Lamb.
The unique combination of spiritual and physical well-being is greatly needed, Dr Topliss stated, as the results of the latest Centre for Clinic Interventions national figures on principal well-being data report revealed that “leaders need support to have time to focus on their well-being as they are often so concerned about the welfare of their students, parents and wider community, that they forget to look after themselves”.
With a positive response to the program, Dr Topliss confirmed that the Borromeo’s Way 20/20 “A Vision for Catholic Leaders” has been added as a Catholic Education Western Australia program in 2020.