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Recontextualising Religion

Staff Blogger Danika Ehlers Head of Religious Education

The purpose of Religious Education at Ambrose Treacy College is to engage students in academic study, as well as spiritual and holistic development. This means that in the RE classroom and more broadly in our school we are seeking to teach Religious Education in a way that is meaningful for students going into our world today. We seek to prepare students to step beyond the confines of the College grounds and shine a light out to the world as they live our motto, ‘Signum Fidei’.

Edmund Rice, Mary MacKillop, Mother Teresa

At times, the messages of Gospel stories can be difficult for students to unpack. I call to mind the look of realisation on faces of students as the story of the Good Samaritan unfolds. The meaning of the Samaritan, being the one who the original audience of the story, would have thought least likely to be favoured by God, or do what is “right”. Similarly, for a young person to look at the examples of people like Edmund Rice, Mother Teresa or Mary MacKillop – people who made very big changes in the world around them – can feel daunting. Here, in the RE class we seek to unpack the messages behind the big actions and help students see that no deed is too small to go unnoticed.

This is where we have the opportunity to live with Gospel Spirituality and bear witness through our actions as we ask ourselves:
• Who is my neighbour?
• How are my actions bringing the Kingdom of God to the world today?
• If Christ were in our world today, where would He be?
• How can I follow the example of the Gospel in my own life?
• How can I be a Sign of the Faith to the world around me?

Saint Teresa of Avila said ‘Christ has no body now, but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.’

In visiting RE classes over the past few weeks, I have enjoyed seeing the ways that the men of ATC are rising to the challenge of being a Sign of Faith. Year 7 RE students are engaged in a Service Learning project and assessment task, the students have served the community in many various and unique ways, from offering baked goods to neighbours and staff, doing yard work for neighbours and washing cars.

Year 9 students have engaged in a study of the legacies of those who have gone before us and how those legacies are being honoured in the world now for example how the work of Edmund Rice as reflected in the work of Orange Sky Laundry and Emmanuel City Mission.

Year 10 students are examining the use of various modern technologies for perpetrating good and evil in the world, with a focus on the Church’s position in relation to these issues. Year 12 Study of Religion students are examining the interaction between Religion and Human Rights, calling on the formation and learning they have engaged in in all of their years at ATC to examine where and when human rights have not been upheld.

The conversations held in these classes, and the actions that come from those are when we see how students have taken on the message we are sharing. It can be seen in the Service initiatives students are taking part in with vigour, even when this looks quite different to how it has in the past.

It has been a joy to engage with students in these capacities, seeing the formation they have received over the course of the year. It is apparent that the Good News is alive and well at ATC.

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Christ Has No Body But Yours

Some beautiful music based on the words of St Teresa

St Teresa of Avila