More than 120 members of the Catholic education community attended the Diocese of Geraldton Conference 2018, themed ‘Lamp for the steps and the light for a way’, hosted by the Bishop of Geraldton recently.
Facilitated by educator and leader Philomena Billington, the conference was held over four consecutive days from 23-26 July and included a mix of key note addresses, outreach sessions and Plenary Council 2020 workgroups sessions.
Keynote presenters included National facilitator for Plenary Council 2020 Lana Turvey-Collins; Fr Ormond Rush from the Diocese of Townsville, who presented his vision of synodality and of a synodal church in terms of “an inverted pyramid”; and Columban missionary priest, Fr Noel Connolly who presented on Pope Francis’ vision of a listening and synodal Church.
These Keynotes were complemented by afternoon workshops, which included presentations by local community members Sister Mary Ryan, SafeGuard Coordinator Jacqui Correy and Micelle Bowen and Daniel Bowen from Nagle Catholic College. Jacqui provided an overview of the new Safeguarding Handbook, Micelle and Daniel presented the Nagle Catholic College Reconciliation Action Plan, demonstrating how participants could be involved in the reconciliation process.
CEWA Consultant Stephen Harris workshopped the Gathered in My Name Parish Religious Education program, designed for children from Pre-Primary to Year Six who attend non-Catholic schools. Fr Joe Parkinson from the Archdiocese of Perth spoke about the prospect of laws permitting euthanasia and assisted suicide in WA, and the challenges they raise for Catholic thinking around the inviolable right to life of every human.
Year 11 and 12 students from Nagle Catholic College participated in Q & A sessions each day led by conference facilitator Phil Billington. Their responses were honest, bold and challenging as we consider the future directions of our Church. Students from St Mary’s Northampton were also represented through audio grabs of what `who Jesus is in their lives’ and what Catholic education means to them.
Geraldton Diocese Regional Officer Leanne Hodge said the conference was a wonderful opportunity for people of this vast Diocese to come together.
“For me the conference was a time of encounter,” she said.
“We were all challenged to speak boldly, and to listen deeply. It was a wonderful way to begin a time of discernment for our Diocese in the lead up to the Plenary Council 2020.”
The three-day conference was well received by delegates who not only participated in planning and information sessions but also got the opportunity to network and meet with colleagues from around the Diocese.