Inspiring a new generation

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Catholic Education Foundation manager Liz Fenech, with the cheque presented by education students of ACU and UNDA, Sydney. Photo: Frank Ienco/Sydney Catholic Schools

Students aim to create a new, authentic culture of Catholic education

A new collaboration with education students at two of Australia’s biggest Catholic universities seeks to inspire a new generation of teachers equipped to inspire holiness as well as excellence in their students.

Education students from the University of Notre Dame and Australian Catholic University collaborated to host an online games and trivia festival during lockdown to mark 200 years of Catholic education in Australia while supporting disadvantaged students to attend Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

Last week the student representatives gave the $1900 raised through the event to the Catholic Education Foundation based in Leichhardt.

The foundation’s program assists financially disadvantaged, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and refugee students, and even provides emergency assistance such as grocery hampers to families in need during the COVID lockdowns.

James Tran, president of the Education Society at UNDA and a final year education student, said the collaboration is also intended to inspire Catholic education students to appreciate their future career as a vocation in the best sense as part of the Church’s broader mission to evangelise.

“I think many education students in Catholic universities haven’t been exposed to this idea before, and we wanted to help educate our students on the significance of a Catholic education because it is different to being a teacher in the state system,” James said.
“We also wanted to try to build and foster community and authentic relationships among the education students of both universities as we can support each other in many ways as we share this common mission.”

He said the student leaders were inspired by the Church’s teaching on Catholic schools expressed in the pastoral letter by the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, which says that “true education is not limited to the imparting of knowledge; it promotes human dignity and genuine human relationships”.
Annalise Thurstan, president of the Education Society at ACU, said she was shocked that a simple afternoon of online games went so well.

… we wanted to help educate our students in the significance of a Catholic education because it is different to being a teacher in the state system.”
James Tran, President, UNDA Education Society

Having completed her first year of studies specialising in primary and special education, Annalise is passionate about helping young people gain a quality Catholic education whose families may not otherwise be able to afford it.

“There are many worthwhile organisations we could donate to, but we kept coming back to the Catholic Education Foundation as it represents the same Catholic values we have as education students of the country’s two biggest Catholic universities,” she said.

“It is quite unique and not as well known as other charitable works.”
Liz Fenech, manager of the foundation, said she was “so chuffed” to receive support from the trainee teachers.

“We’re here to help our families across the archdiocese’s schools who due to financial, social or cultural hardships find it hard to afford a quality education for their children,” she said.

“We’re a small team doing work which has a tremendous impact and it’s just wonderful that education students from our two Catholic universities chose to support us.”

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