Wealth of culture and experience inform Catholic Religious Education summit

Malta’s cultural and religious richness was the stage for the recent inaugural International Conference of Catholic Religious Education in schools.

Associate Professor Michael Buchanan (Australian Catholic University, ACU) and Associate Professor Adrian Mario Gellel (University of Malta) brought together more than 100 scholars and teachers from around the globe for the convocation.

The Conference of four days in the first week of February combined keynote addresses, multiple research presentations together with immersion and prayerful experiences within the Archbishop’s Seminary, historic Churches and sacred places.

ACU sponsored the conference, through an initiative of the La Salle Academy, in collaboration with the Government of Malta and the University of Malta. 

The purpose was to share insights into best practice, build solidarity of intentions and to discuss and critique the diversity of activities that constitute Catholic Religious Education. 

Seen as a dynamic and grounded endeavour that responded to interest and commitment, the conference was described by Professor Brother David Hall FMS as “organic in nature which drew from the richness of global scholarship and the extraordinary commitment of Religious educators worldwide.”

For those who participated, this was no ordinary meeting, as the process incorporated experience, theory, personal connection, and, service of the Faith within a graced and changing world.

Each presentation was associated with formal and informal dialogue and covered a range of interests across religious education philosophy, pedagogy, national research, formation, curriculum, the interface of theology and scripture, challenges within the developing world, contemplative practice and innovative research. 

Significantly, many of these presentations, together with keynote contributions from Professors Bert Roebben, Terry Lovat, Robert Jackson and Tom Groome will be published in 2019 in 'Global Perspectives on Catholic Religious Education Volume II: Learning and Leading in a Pluralist World'.

For participants, the presentations were “extraordinary in focus, clarity and relevance, each of which challenged and gave hope to what is a discipline of continuing reflection in service of the Gospel,” said Professor Hall.

The success of the Conference was not contained to the quality of scholarship shared. Powerful liturgies prepared by Dr Rose Duffy, morning and evening gatherings in sacred sites, hosted dinners, and the Eucharist presided over by the Papal Nuncio provided an authentic culture to ‘issues and challenges shared in an atmosphere of respectful and truthful communication.’ 

Moreover, relationships of friendship and collegial interactions were renewed and forged with the promise of a future gathering in Australia in 2020 being welcomed and anticipated. Media 

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