Our kids must be faith ready to be #FutureReady

Religious education and Indigenous Studies teacher Alison Collet De Sousa helping a student at Loreto Normanhurst. Photo: Supplied

The buzz in education and parenting these days is around future proofing our children. There are countless articles, posts and seminars on the subject. So the Council of Catholic School Parents (CCSP) in conjunction with the Broken Bay Catholic School Parents have chosen this as the theme for their 2017 parent conference titled #FutureReady at St Paul’s Catholic College, Manly.

But in preparing our kids for their future is it enough to provide them with skills and capabilities alone? Or is there more to it than that?

Keynote speaker Daniel Fleming from St Vincent’s Health Australia believes that faith and the way that our spirituality is passed on to our children is critical to their growth and future fulfilment. The topic of Daniel’s talk is Spirituality and Ethics in the Future for Families and the CCSP asked him to share some of his thoughts with readers.

1. What is one of the biggest challenges facing families today in terms of faith?

I think a lot of us operate out of a ‘thin’ version of Catholicism, one which emphasises this or that part of the Tradition and adds that to an otherwise normal life, but doesn’t challenge us to dive into its depths and draw on its great richness. The Catholic tradition provides us with a beautiful vision of what it means to be human and great guidance on what that vision means for how we live out our lives, but it’s also a challenging vision. It’s not popular to put faith and the vision for life it gives at the centre of things, and that makes it really hard for families.

2. Is there a quick-fix way to remedy this?

There isn’t! This is something which calls for a lifetime of commitment, exercised in each and every step we take along life’s journey. That’s one of the great challenges of faith – it invites us to ongoing commitment, discernment, and growth. Like climbing a mountain, it has its tough moments and it takes time, but ultimately both the journey and the destination are so filled with beauty, truth and goodness that it is well and truly worth it, you should see the view!

3. What would your advice be to families around passing spirituality on to their children?

Don’t forget that in the Catholic tradition spirituality (our ongoing relationship with God) and ethics (the way in which we choose to live) are closely related. Indeed, if we read the 25th chapter of Matthew we see an idea that has impelled Christians throughout the ages to act ethically when they encounter those who are vulnerable, both for the good of those we encounter and because in so doing we’re excercising our relationship with God: “just as you did to the least of these…”.

Encouraging children’s spirituality can include encouraging them to be compassionate and loving with a special concern for the vulnerable, because in doing so they’re placing their faith at the centre of their lives, and growing in their relationship with God. Find some great stories about key figures from our faith throughout history.

Some of the most exciting biographies are of people impelled by their faith to do great things. This shows that spirituality can be exciting, and a rich part of life, not an add-on that gets in the way of other things!

4. Why do you feel so strongly about this?

We have a beautiful faith tradition, which invites us into a beautiful life. I think it’s good news for all of us and for our world, and so I think it’s worth sharing!

Other keynote speakers at the conference include Dr Lea Waters, Gerry Higgins Chair in Positive Psychology, University of Melbourne, and Barbara Barker, Research Manager at Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth. The weekend of September 9-10 will provide a wonderful opportunity for educators and parents to mix together and experience great speakers, great partnership and a great venue.

There is also a Kids Conference and free Master Class featuring Dr Lea Waters, Friday evening. For more information about the conference visit the CCSP website www.ccsp.catholic.edu.au or to book visit trybooking.com

This could be the most important conference you attend this year and should not be missed. Call 9287 1514 to find out more.