Director of Faith & Religious Studies

On Monday 14 August, staff at the College participated in the annual staff retreat or reflection day.  For this year, the theme of the day quite pertinently reflected the Salesian Strenna theme for 2017, We are a Family: Every Home a School of Life and Love. As a staff, our context was to revisit the 2017 Strenna in direct reference to the charism and spirituality of St John Bosco and reflect on this in relation to how we as a College work with our families.

Our day revolved around three pivotal workshops. Our keynote presenter, Fr Joe Boenzi SDB, a Salesian priest from Berkeley California delivered the first two for the day. He drew on insights from the historical context of Don Bosco and his response in 19th Century industrial Turin to the socio-cultural and socio-economic circumstances that prevailed at that time in working with the marginalised families and young people.

Fr Joe used the context of the Salesian Strenna and the most recent papal Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love-On Love in the Family) to highlight the challenges both historically and contemporary to difficult family situations. Staff were invited to reflect on these challenges in light of the essence of the spirit of the Strenna and to see how our vision and mission aligns with the Salesian charism and the inspiration offered by St John Bosco.

Fr Joe, an eminent doctoral scholar and historian, captivated the staff by his illuminating insights into the cultural context of 19th Century Piedmont, and how Don Bosco, an educational visionary in his time, developed a pedagogy and spirituality that was very much centred on the holistic wellbeing of the young people he encountered in his work. That legacy is the driving force of all Salesian works today.

For the third workshop of the day, staff gathered in small groups to commence initial discussions and the foundational planning of a future document to be produced by the College as a charter for working with families. Using the inspiration of Fr Joe’s presentation and the launch of a new staff publication Our Commitment, staff were invited to share their experiences and ideas around the Strenna and the Charter for Salesian Schools in Australia. This engaging session has now produced substantial material that will allow for further consultation and drafting of values, shared understandings and agreed behaviours that staff will entrust to as our ongoing commitment to professional standards and living our Salesian charism.

The day concluded with the Celebration of the Eucharist honouring the Feast of the Assumption presided over by Fr Joe Boenzi and our College Chaplain, Fr Joe Binh Dinh. The animation of the staff’s faith is seen as being vital to ensuring that we are living out our Catholic values and commitment to a vibrant liturgical life.

Our staff’s ongoing professional learning, professional development and faith formation is important.  Placed in the context of student centred learning and wellbeing, and future focused planning, these opportunities for staff to engage in rigorous discussions and reflection are intrinsic to ensuring that the College maintains its commitment to its CLEF values.

Stephen Connelly
Director of Faith and Religious Studies