Report From the Catholic Schools Office – 19 November

MEETING OF THE EVANGELISATION OFFICE AT JOLIVET HOUSE, 19 NOVEMBER 2013
REPORT FROM THE CATHOLIC SCHOOLS OFFICE PRETORIA

CSO Theme for 2013: RAISING STANDARDS IN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS IN THE YEAR OF FAITH.

1. CATHOLIC IDENTITY AND ETHOS

• On Tuesday 15 October, the new Deeds of Agreement were signed by Archbishop Slattery, Principals and Chairmen of the SGB of both Tsogo and Morekolodi. Paul Mogorosi from CIE briefly explained the contents of the DOA to all those present. He has now taken these documents to the MEC NWEd for signature. The whole process of preparing the documents, getting them approved and gathering all the signatories in one place at one time has taken 12 months. We hope that NWEd will now acknowledge the special status of these two schools, as Catholic public schools on private property.

• Dumisane Kunene, the new deputy director of CSO, and I have been visiting some of the Pretoria schools that are unfamiliar to him: St Camillus, Boitshepo and the Dominican School for Deaf Children on Tuesday 12 November, Tsogo and Morekolodi on Wednesday 20 November and Holy Trinity on 28 November.

• Br Michael Burke led the retreat for the RE Coordinators at Nazareth House on Friday 25 October. He structured the morning’s retreat on a picture of the hand, using each finger as a different form of prayer. It turned out to be a wonderful time of silence, reflection, solitude and prayer for the 18 RE teachers who attended.

• Ten schools out of the fourteen have now undergone a RE Validation process with reports sent to the Chairman of the BOG of each school, to the owner/congregation and to CIE. The following schools in Pretoria, the last in a three-year cycle, have asked to be validated next year: Iona Convent, Dominican School for Deaf Children, St Camillus and Morekolodi.

• Seventeen RE teachers from Pretoria schools attended the National RE Conference “Roots and Wings” on 20 to 23 September in Durban. From all accounts, they thoroughly enjoyed the Conference and felt inspired to try out new ideas in their teaching.

• We have tried to promote the Biblical Studies Course offered by St Augustine’s by informing all the schools, and speaking about it at the Principals meeting. It is the first correspondence course offered by St Augustine’s and can be done over a period of two, or even three years. It is not a Religious Education course, however, but would be of value to any RE teacher.

• CSO has designed its new emblem/logo for 2014 – 2016 following the same theme of International Catholic Schools: Catholic Schools – Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.

2. PASTORAL CARE (HEALTH AND WELL BEING)

• On Wednesday 9 October, Sr Maureen Yenson and I ran a workshop on the implementation of the Child Safeguarding Policy at St Camillus. About thirty members of staff attended and were attentive and quite animated in the discussions. What was striking was the fear expressed when it came to the obligation to report any abuse. Their question was: “Who is going to protect us from being victimised?” and our reply “The police” was met with scepticism.

• All the Pretoria schools have now had this training, except for Boitshepo Secondary, where a date has still not been set. The principal, Patrick Ganyane, has been on sick leave for a couple of months now and I have had to postpone an appointment with him on three different occasions.

3. LEADERSHIP, GOVERNANCE AND PROFESSIONALISM

• The Graduation Ceremony of the CSO leadership Course was held at St Paulus on 6 November. About sixty people gathered in the school hall to enjoy a programme of marimba playing, an entertaining address by Fr Hugh Lagan and then the handing out of certificates by Archbishop Slattery. Twenty-seven teachers graduated, from twenty-one different Catholic schools, seventeen in Johannesburg and four in Pretoria. The two teachers who were not able to complete the course may be able to do so next year, as we have decided to offer the course again in 2014. Twenty teachers have already registered and paid their deposit.

• The last function of the year is the Principals’ luncheon held at CBC and sponsored by the CSO. The Gr 10 pupils doing Hospitality Studies prepared and served the meal – a five star experience!

4. RENEW AFRICA

• All the members of the Evangelisation Desk were invited to attend a workshop offered by Sr Marie Cooper from RENEW INTERNATIONAL. She has been working for some years in RENEW AFRICA and has much experience in evangelising through setting up small Christian communities and training the trainers.

• A follow-up meeting was held last Saturday, 16 November, to inform invited (possible) members of a Diocesan Core Community about introducing Renew to the parishes of the Archdiocese. This group of six people have agreed to meet again, on Saturday 30 November, in order to find out more from Duncan Hyam who leads the DCC in Johannesburg.

5. CONCERNS

• Rumour has it that Satanism is again raising its ugly head at Tsogo Secondary, and that three teachers are somehow involved. I have made an appointment to visit the school tomorrow, 20 November, and plan to meet with the Principal and Fr Patrick Phiri. Unfortunately the RE Coordinator and Deputy Principal, Violet Ramathunya, has resigned and left the school.

• The Principal of St Camillus, Simon Maphae, has been received the good news from KWALATA, a game lodge very near the school, that they have secured a donation of 20 computers by a client called Round Square International. But to receive this donation, the school has to provide, or develop a suitable computer centre. Once established, the idea is to make it available to the school and the local parish. Simon Maphae has been asked to set up a meeting with the various stakeholders, which will include the owner of the school in order to finalise the proposal (see copy of letter from KWALATA). Who should attend this meeting on behalf of the Diocese?

• Would it be right to do a RE Validation at Boitshepo when there is no RE programme to validate, i.e. no RE lessons, Masses or observances of Catholic feast days? Fr John is however visiting the school on a regular basis to address the staff and pupils at morning assembly.

Renée d’Oliveira
Catholic Schools Office Pretoria

Click Here to Download this Report (PDF)