It’s called Didasko and it means ‘to teach’: Catholic adult formation in Sydney is going digital with some of the country’s best educators providing intensive online courses open to all.
Bishop Richard Umbers, the archdiocese’s episcopal vicar for evangelisation will launch Didasko as its first presenter next June. Bishop Umbers will speak on the topic ‘What Catholic Christians Believe: An introduction to the Catechism’ over three evening sessions on 1, 8 and 14 June.
He will be followed by a monthly series featuring local Catholic presenters until the end of November: Rev. Dr Gregory Morgan, Professor Tracey Rowland, Professor Renee Kohler-Ryan, Dr Peter Holmes and Professor M Isabell Naumann ISSM.
“Pope Francis has often referred to the works of St Pope Paul VI, particularly Ecclesiam Suam, in which he speaks of the need for dialogue because modern people are much better educated, and in the proclamation of the Gospel we need to take into account who our interlocutors are,” Bishop Umbers said.
“When we are with our fellow citizens, or people we meet in the workplace, we should be well-equipped to give reasons for our hope, not simply in an apologetic sense …” – Bishop Richard Umbers
“A large part of the thrust of the Second Vatican Council is a realignment of the way in which we put forward perennial truths and it is one in which we very much need to see ourselves as fellow travellers with others. I would argue that Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti is in the same vein.
“As a result, when we are with our colleagues, our fellow citizens, people we meet in the workplace, we should be well equipped to give reasons for our hope as we talk through issues of common concern, not simply in an apologetics sense or a polemic one.
“For that we need an intellectual formation, we need to be steeped in the basics of our faith that gives us the building blocks to constructing arguments of all types that will come from our minds and our hearts.
“That’s what genuine evangelisation looks like in today’s world. It is a sharing of our faith but not by doing something out of the ordinary; it just flows from who we are.”
“We hope these offerings will be a great resource for parishes to build a culture of formation …” – Elizabeth Arblaster, SCE
Elizabeth Arblaster, parish renewal manager for the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation, said that intellectual and spiritual formation is “essential for a disciple to grow to full maturity. It is also crucial to the life of our mission, because we cannot give what we do not have.
“Didasko seeks to be a place where adult Catholics in Sydney – whether new, cradle, lapsed, rusty, keen to learn, and/or full of questions – can access the basics of our spiritual and intellectual tradition from extraordinarily gifted teachers at welcoming, live, online sessions.
“We hope these offerings will be a great resource for parishes to build a culture of formation in which Catholics receive the nourishment they need to grow; not only for their own sake, but for the sake of all who will be blessed by their discipleship.”
Bishop Umbers said his three-part introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was published 30 years ago, will show that “the Catechism isn’t boring”.
“It has been for me a go-to on many occasions and I’m looking forward to introducing people to the texts and showing them how it really is written for intelligent, thinking adults,” he said.
“Sydney has all the people and all the resources for evangelism that is being asked of us in this time. I’m very happy that with the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation we now have great support in providing these kinds of forums.”
The cost is $25 per course, which includes three evening sessions. Each course will be delivered online via Zoom.