Religious and laypeople attended a programme to strengthen schools’ Catholic ethos
More than 50 people recently attended a programme on School Chaplaincy Teams conducted by an Australian Catholic school consultant.
Dr Michael Downey, who is also an author, retreat facilitator and teacher, gave the training sessions and also spoke to clergy, teachers, vice principals and principals.
“The school chaplaincy team role compliments the roles of teacher and pastor,” Dr Downey told CatholicNews. “School chaplains are called to be a presence in our schools, taking time to stop, be still amongst the constant busyness … so that we come to know that God is with us.”
Dr Downey gave the sessions from April 26-May 4.
The Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS) had proposed the concept of School Chaplaincy Teams (SCTs) in 2009. This was in response to schools’ requests for greater archdiocesan support in strengthening the institutions’ Catholic ethos.
SCTs are a team of people with a wide range of gifts, according to ACCS. A typical SCT could consist of laypersons, Religious and a priest. They do not replace a school counsellor but play an essential role in spiritual accompaniment of students and staff, and in supporting the religious life of the school.
According to ACCS, priests have always been very generous with their time but often they are unable to do more than celebrate Masses and hear confessions.
The SCTs would minister to a school community in the areas of accompaniment, liturgy, pastoral care and religious education, says ACCS executive director Wendy Louis.
“An SCT member, in addition to being available as a listening ear, could help out in preparing school Masses and paraliturgies according to the liturgical calendar, and support religious education teachers, providing for a deeper and broader Catholic presence.”, she said.
Training for SCTs began in 2010.
Participants of the recent training programme said they found it useful.
Ms Angeline Xavier said she found the sessions enriching, containing deep insights. She added that she plans to gradually introduce the SCT concept to her school.
An SCT member and counsellor at CHIJ Katong Convent, Ms Debra Scully, said she was “heartened” that Dr Downey “took the time to give us support from the Scriptures”.
Canossian Sr Dorothy Lim said she was glad “that so many others were there together, desiring to be trained as a team and committed to the necessity of building a Catholic ethos and culture”.
By Don Gurugay