Catholic educators, Bishops, priests, school trustees and others have taken part in seminars, workshops, tours and exhibitions throughout this week at Wellington’s TSB Arena on Wellington’s waterfront.
With almost all Catholic schools represented at the Convention, the week’s activities have been carefully planned and choreographed by the NZ Catholic Education Office. International speakers from the United States, England and Australia have been joined by subject specialists from throughout the country. Many workshops and seminars have offered delegates a multitude of choices, presenting current discourse on a range of hot button education and Catholic ministry topics.
Topics up for discussion have included sessions on Mana Whenua, Mana Tāngata, working with Pasifika children and families, the changing landscape of families, social justice activities in the classroom and evangelising students and communities. The finale of the convention will be an extensive tour visiting the legacy of Suzanne Aubert, Meri Hohepa, with a visit to Wellington’s Soup Kitchen, her recently restored historic creche and Our Lady’s Home of Compassion in Island Bay – Resting Place of Mother Aubert.
Highlights of the week’s events have included keynote speaker Dame Therese Walsh, who provided a faith-based perspective of working in a corporate environment, and how her Catholic background informed the way she has worked; Father Daniel Horan spoke about the joy of Christian foolishness and bringing about the Word of God in thought and deed; and Secretary for Education, Iona Holsted shared her thoughts about the review work that the government is undertaking, thanking Catholic schools for the work that they do.
Paul Ferris, CEO of the New Zealand Catholic Education Office addressed the delegates with an insightful and often humorous account of his career working in Catholic schools throughout the country and provided some real food for thought on opportunities and challenges facing Catholic educators today.
Central themes of his presentation were intent, evangelisation and formation. He recognised schools as the front line of parishes and challenged them to invest in recruitment, retention and formation. Ferris called on schools to interpret the signs of the time through engagement, modelling and dialogue, in contributing to the building of vibrant and intentional faith communities.