By Eric Martin
Religious Education (RE) Week at Clontarf Aboriginal College had its inauguration in 2017, and just two years later the college celebrates a week that has become a much anticipated annual fixture of the school’s calendar, starting on Tuesday 4 June.
The week-long event, organised by Head of Religious Education and Campus Ministry Salvatore De Luca, was a faith and culture filled, action-packed week that saw respected guest speakers from across Australia partake in the celebrations to create an inspiring atmosphere for students.
The aim of the week was to celebrate religious education and its broad diversity of topics with various links between the Catholic Faith and Aboriginal Spirituality presented through guest speakers, activities, and events.
College Principal, Troy Hayter, lent his full support to the event and is one of its strongest supporters
“RE Week is such an important event in our College calendar and our students look forward to the amazing week; learning about other people’s faith journeys, further focusing on the understanding of spirituality across our College programs and further strengthening the connections between Aboriginal Spirituality and Catholic faith,” he said.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for our community to highlight and celebrate the important of our faith and spirituality”.
RE Week Coordinator Salvatore De Luca said the students thoroughly enjoyed the week and all its offerings.
“It was a wonderful week, we had a record number of speakers and presenters – 31 presenters throughout the week – speaking to students, participating in activities and getting involved throughout the week,” Mr De Luca said.
“Each guest presenter, in their own unique style, connected with our students and staff.”
“Uncle Reg Carnamah and Aunty Donna Ryder from Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, Fr Hong Pham from the Vietnamese Catholic community – he presented on his journey starting out as a Christian Brother and then a national karate coach for the Vietnamese Karate Team at the Sydney Olympics and he shared some stories and some magical tricks with our students and wowed them – he was wonderful,” Mr De Luca shared.
There were various activities running throughout the week: The Clontarf Amazing race, which is always a favourite of RE Week; there was the Bible Book Championship, which was hotly contested with students having to recall the most number of Books of the Bible; and there were other competitions going on at morning tea and lunchtimes.
Another highlight was Dr Angela McCarthy presenting the St Johns Bible, which is the first hand written bible to be produced in more than 500 years.
There was Christian Service Learning where students completed activities of service for the Shopfront and Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, two agencies of the Archdiocese of Perth and Ronald McDonald House, Perth.
“Something that we added in this year is the Vocations Expo, where we had 15 people from different walks and fields of life, and for our year 11 and 12 students, who have been learning about vocations through their curriculum, they were able to engage and interact with these different people from different fields: from aviation, business, conservation, Fr Mark from the Vocations Office, we had a representative from National Indigenous Television, UWA, the West Australian Police Force and others…” Mr De Luca explained.
“There was a real variety of people to come in and share their knowledge with our students.”
The students made their way around a circular setup and had five or six minutes with each visitor, asking questions and finding out what is involved and the necessary requirements for each of the different vocations.
“It was personalised and catered to our student’s various interests as well as opening their horizons to different areas that they may not have known about,” Mr De Luca said.
“The week is for the students and their involvement, engagement and participation was wonderful.”
Student feedback is crucial for the development and implementation of RE Week; the week is for them to celebrate Religious Education and Clontarf Aboriginal College uses their responses to each year’s event to ensure that the following RE Week is even better than the one before.
“So some of those guests I mentioned, their invitation was based on feedback from the students,” Mr De Luca explained.
“Some of them have been to the college in the past and some of those guests the students have heard speak or know of, and they really had input into the visitors that were invited and the activities that were involved throughout the week.”
The students were not the only source of positive feedback to the college about RE Week, the speakers and other guests thoroughly enjoyed their participation in the event.
“It’s overwhelmingly positive, they love coming to the college and the feedback is always about how much they enjoy the hospitality of the college and the students,” Mr De Luca said.
“The warmth and welcome of the students is always really pleasing and positive. Students really engage and ask questions – for us at the College RE Week is an opportunity for us to celebrate our Catholic faith and our Aboriginal spirituality.”