FAITH MATTERS: Keep the Flame Burning

“Life is often a desert, it is difficult to walk, but if we trust in God, it can become beautiful and wide as a highway,” Pope Francis.

Each week during the school term, people who volunteer their time, love, dedication, and commitment to the faith, go to state schools across our diocese to share the gospel with children. Special Religious Education (SRE) teachers have said yes to a calling to accompany children on their faith journey. To some people this may seem like a difficult path to take, a walk in a desert.

“Children in state schools have as much a right as any to encounter Jesus Christ and come to know, love and serve God,” said Bishop Michael Kennedy. SRE teachers “accompany children as they discover new insights about their own faith.”

They do this because they said yes to continuing an inheritance and a commitment to pass on the flame of those who came before us.

“From those followers of Christ who started the first schools in Australia to those who wrote the NSW Public Education of 1880 and all those SRE teachers, coordinators and helpers that have taught SRE through the generations from 1880 to today, we all play some part in continuing the legacy that ensures that NSW public schools remain a place where all worldviews are welcome and all parents have the dignity of informed choice when it comes to their children's worldview education,” Tom Eastlake, ICCOREIS Executive Officer said.

This is not just a vocation for those who are retired. Some teachers enjoy taking scripture classes within the context of flexible working arrangements, where they can come away from work for a thirty-minute lesson once a week.

We are in the process of exploring recruitment and training of high school students who will benefit not only from upskilling and experiencing classroom teaching in a supportive network but will gain spiritual growth in their own faith formation.

You might like to consider a vocation in SRE yourself but have questions.

I’m not a teacher, nor have I ever been.
Are you a parent? Then you are a teacher.
Do you love children? Then you can be a teacher.
Do you enjoy faith-filled opportunities to grow yourself and deepen your love of Christ? Then perhaps you are being called to be a teacher.

I’ve never done any studies in teaching scripture.
Not to worry, we provide all the necessary training and support for you to teach a scripture class in your own local parish area. We offer initial and ongoing training, face-to-face and online, as well as experienced teachers to mentor you along the way. You would never be placed in a classroom to teach on your own until you feel completely comfortable.

I don’t have time.
Thirty minutes.
One lesson per week.
That’s thirty minutes out of ten thousand and eighty minutes.
Can you make time?

There are plenty of people to do this.
No, actually, we really need you.
There are over two hundred state primary schools in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter. We currently have fifty-three active SRE teachers who cover twenty-seven schools. That equates to hundreds of schools and thousands of children potentially missing out on hearing the word of God or learning about Jesus’ love for them.

I imagine it’s a vocation that you do for a short while.
Most of our amazing teachers have been doing this for decades. We are in the process of recognising recipients for service of five to forty years. Once you catch the flame, the fire usually burns for a long time.

I’m already working.
Many people are now able to negotiate flexible working arrangements with their employer, allowing for possibilities to open. Ask your line manager.

So, what can you do to keep the flame burning? Join us for our annual SRE Reflection Day with Bishop Michael Kennedy. Listen to the stories of those who minister Special Religious Education in state schools. Pray with them, pray for them and spend some time in the company of inspirational people.

Sometimes a decision we make might seem like walking in a desert, with difficulties to face, but in trusting God, who knows, you may just feel that invitation to join the team of teachers and keep that flame alight.

Morning Tea & Lunch are provided. To register, go to or if you are interested in learning more about becoming an SRE teacher, contact us at

Follow on Facebook.