Course equips lay leaders for mission

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St Luke’s Revesby Principal, Catherine Coman is among this year’s crop of students who chose to study at the Arete Centre. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

The Arete Centre for Missionary Leadership is gearing up for a third successful year of equipping leaders for evangelisation.

Centre director Fr Chris Ryan MGL said the Foundations of Missionary Leadership Course is open to anyone passionate about parish renewal or sharing the mission of Christ in other settings as well. “The course is suited to volunteers or people in paid employment, youth ministers, anyone involved in adult evangelisation, in parish leadership or related church organisations,” Fr Chris said.

“The Foundations of Missionary Leadership course is unlike any other as it is designed specifically for the Australian context and offers a unique blend of theological knowledge, human development, spiritual formation, and practical skills needed for mission.”

The course comprises four units: the Spirituality of Missionary Leadership, the Theological Foundations of Mission in the Australian Context, the Theory and Practice of Missionary Leadership, and Practicum and Field Placement.

Vivian Mourani, a Family Educator and part-time teacher at St Therese’s Catholic Primary in Denistone has loved the FML course at the Arete Centre this year. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Flexible course delivery allows students from anywhere in Australia to apply, and the course structure offers a blend of weekly, interactive online lectures, in-person intensives and monthly zoom mentoring sessions.

The 2021 cohort includes students already working in various expressions of youth and adult evangelisation across different dioceses, as well as parishioners who feel called to answer the invitation to ‘Go and make disciples’.

Anthony Cleary, the director of Mission and Identity at Sydney Catholic Schools, said that he is pleased to offer scholarship opportunities to employees of the system who may wish to undertake the program. This year’s crop of students includes Catherine Coman, the principal at St Luke’s Catholic Primary School, Revesby.

She heard about the course through a friend, and knew that if she wanted to instil in her students a sense of love and wonder for Christ, it would help her to learn how to lead in a way that would inspire a desire for relationship with Christ in her staff and parents.
She said that doing the course had ignited her energy and passion for Church mission as a member of the school and parish community.

“The course material gave me the theological understanding and a language that helped me to assist others to grow in their faith,” Catherine said. St Luke’s family educator, Terrie Yule, was a fellow student, which has provided opportunities for the two to work closely together as a team with the school’s acting religious education coordinator, she added.

Laura Neeson Family Educator at Galilee Catholic Primary School in Bondi, and marketing manager at Arete. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Laura Neeson Family Educator at Galilee Catholic Primary School in Bondi, who also works at Arete, said that doing the course this year has personally been “such a gift”. “Evangelising is not an easy thing to do, and to be fruitful requires more than just a little faith because if you get it wrong, the consequences can be that someone turns away from beginning their faith journey instead of drawing near to it,” she said.

“On a personal level, the course has really deepened my relationship with God and opened up my prayer life in new ways so that I am more able to recognise the movement of the Holy Spirit at work in my life and to discern His will for me.

“It has equipped me with practical skills and understanding that when applied have made a difference in my community in small but powerful ways and the mentorship I have received throughout the course has been invaluable.”

Vivian Mourani, a family educator and part time teacher at St Therese Catholic Primary School in Denistone enrolled because she wanted to learn how to encourage people to “fall in love with Jesus”.

Director of the Arete Centre for Missionary Leadership Fr Chris Ryan MGL. PHOTO: Arete

It has helped her not only in her role as a family educator and teacher but also as a wife and mother of three, she said, in giving her the tools and language to have more effective conversations about faith.

Her own faith had “exploded” through this year’s journey, she said, especially through the retreat and encounter weekends. “They really deepened my relationship with Jesus and I’ve always grown up in the faith in a Lebanese family with a strong tradition, but I don’t think I’ve ever encountered this overwhelming love for Jesus before,” Vivian said.

“As a Christian we’re called to share the mission of Christ, but how do we do that is the question. This course has allowed me to better understand the process of evangelisation and how it relates in today’s society and culture in Australia. It’s also given me more confidence to not only meet people where they are at but to take them on a journey of faith.”

Applications for next year close on 31 October. For details and to apply visit www.aretecentre.org/courses

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