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Religious Dimension and Culture of School Life

Ministry Coordinator: Mr Michael Doyle

Catholic Identity

St Paul's is proudly and vibrantly a Catholic school. Our mission is to strive to acknowledge the self worth and dignity of all of our community members – students, staff, parents, clergy and the wider community. The reality of spiritual formation, religion classes, prayer life, the celebration of Eucharist, liturgical celebrations, school retreats and reflection days all help shape our reality as a Catholic school. Our strong links with Parish communities and our constant reflection of our Catholic identity are essential to our reality. The challenge is to sustain the spiritual call to all in our community and to ensure we truly reflect a relevant Gospel message.

St Paul's is committed to the development of the whole person – physically, spiritually, academically, emotionally and psychologically. Both in school and through many extra curricular activities our foundation and centre in Christ and the values inherent in the Gospel are evident.

The School as part of Parish and Diocesan Life

St Paul's enrols students from the parishes of Morisset, Toronto, Glendale, Edgeworth, Cardiff and Boolaroo/Warners Bay. As well, there are some students from other parishes outside of the feeder schools.

Students from St Paul's are involved in each of their Parish churches as readers, altar servers and in Youth groups.

St Paul's has a St Vincent de Paul group within the school. Run by a member of the teaching Staff, the group meets regularly and involves the members in a number of activities including food collections for the needy and raising funds through activities such as out-of-uniform days, cake stalls and sausage sizzles to assist students within the diocese who need assistance.

Every year the Principal meets with the Bishop, Director of Schools and Priests of the Cluster to discuss matters relevant to the operation of the school and its support for the Church in the wider community.

St Paul's Ministry Coordinator organises Prayers, Liturgies, Masses, Reflection Days and Retreats. Contact with the Parish Priests is via involvement in meetings during the year and in these days. Some staff members are Special Ministers, Readers and Commentators in their local churches.

The school participates actively in the Way of the Cross at St Joseph's, Kilaben Bay, during Easter.

Teaching of Religion

The teaching of Religion at St Paul's is covered by three specific courses. In Stages 4 and 5, K – 12 Diocesan Religion Syllabus is used. This programme is regularly updated to suit the current needs and these needs are discerned by Religious Studies Coordinators, Religion teachers and staff involved in Religious Education at the Catholic Schools Office. The Stage 5 course is a Content Endorsed Course of 200 hours and focuses on the history and development of religion with a specific focus on Catholicity.

In Stage 6, we are currently entering our tenth HSC, with most Stage 6 students choosing either the 1 unit or 2 unit Board of Studies course, Studies of Religion. At the commencement of 2006, the Catholic Studies course, which is a Board Endorsed Course, was implemented as a more viable option for students who were not attempting to gain an ATAR, or who have a large number of units and do not need the Board Course for their ATAR. Enrolments in the 2 unit course continue to grow and our HSC results have been very solid. In the 2010 HSC, the 2U results were above state average.

Retreats and Faith Development Programs

A development programme of spiritual formation across Years 7-12 engages our students on many levels.

Students from Years 7-9 participate in Reflection Days that aim to explore significant issues of human development in the light of the Gospel values. Each Reflection Day also involves students in the practice of specific skills of spiritual formation.

In Year 10, students attend a three-day camp titled, Challenge and Reflection, where they are challenged both physically and spiritually.

The pinnacle component of the Spiritual Formation programme is the Year 12 Retreat, which for students is one of the most significant experiences of school life.

Surrounding these specific events and activities lays the prayer and liturgical life of the school where such occasions as the Opening and Graduation Masses and the feast of St Paul, allow the community the opportunity to celebrate and express the ethos and values of the school.

For our staff, development days have been devoted to spiritual formation and to the consideration of their role as Catholic educators.

Each fortnight staffs were provided the opportunity to gather for 10 mins guided reflection and prayer at the beginning of the day. This small gathering entitled "Damascus Time" was a small but significant renewal moment in their week.

Staff were invited to two Retreat opportunities held at Fingal Bay over the course of a Sunday - Monday. These were fully booked up quite quickly, and afforded an invaluable time away together reflecting upon their journey of life.

Values and Social Justice Initiatives

St Paul's annually targets Vinnies, Caritas Australia, Project Compassion, the Leukaemia Foundation, the Blood Bank and CanTeen as the focus of our student based fundraising. St Paul's is a very generous community. Vinnies is a target for our Easter and Christmas "Can and Coin" drive, as well as being the recipient of our "winter jumper muster" and Christmas Gifts for distribution. We substantially fundraise for Caritas and Project Compassion during Lent, and generously support the two health research based organisations in the Leukaemia Foundation and CanTeen.

St Paul's is also involved in a program of visits to local Aged Care Facilities. Students visit these centres weekly and spend time talking and playing games with elderly residents. This promotes great respect between young and old alike.

The teachers in the Religious Studies faculty have specific qualifications in the teaching of Religion and continue to grow in knowledge through the many professional development courses on offer.