A theology graduate’s journey: Alana Partridge

“If you look the right way you can see that the whole world is a garden.”

During 2012, I began studying a Master of Theology through the Broken Bay Institute. I had recently taken on a new role in a new school as a Studies Coordinator at St Catherine's Catholic College, Singleton, and was having my house built, thus was temporarily sleeping in a caravan. I was also mothering a 2-year-old and growing a new baby.

In a hormone-induced crazed moment, I decided to start studying again.

For many years, I had been teaching the Studies of Religion 2 unit HSC course and it had always been an area I was deeply interested in, so Theology was the likely choice for further study. It took four years to complete, as my time was divided between working full-time, being a mother to Phoebe, aged 7 and Florence, aged 4 and a wife to Darren. 

This rigorous course took me on a journey to understand the history of Religious Education, the importance of faith continuation for young people, and the significant theories and people that have formed the basis of our religious tradition.

The most rewarding unit of this course was one in which I investigated the possibilities of connecting young people to their faith through connecting them to their environment; God as the 'ultimate gardener' and Jesus as part of our cosmos. This final unit tied in nicely with a sensory garden project I had been working on with Year 11 English studies students.

My year 12 English Extension students learned a lot about my readings as I discovered theologians, inspired by writers of the Romantic period, in touch with nature and deep spirituality. 

This nourishing course of study has helped develop my personal faith and made me more receptive to the questions of young people, regarding their faith. I believe it is important to model the quest for knowledge that we, as teachers, hope to inspire in our students.

My open discussions with students about my course and their celebration with me at the completion is integral to connecting with young people and encouraging high academic success.  

I would like to think that now I have lots of spare time. My husband would like to see me away from my books and computer. But rather, this course has simply whet my appetite for more study. Crazy, I know.  

If you look the right way you can see that the whole world is a garden - The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett.

“If the simple fact of being human moves people to care for the environment of which they are a part, Christians in their turn realise that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith.” (Laudato Si, Paragraph 64)

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