Last month, the Family Educator Project was taken on a journey to the United States, where it was presented to over 70 people from different diocese in the US, as well as a number of other countries, such as England, the Bahamas and Scotland. The event was the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) Convention and Expo, held in Orlando, Florida at the Orange County Convention Centre. The NCEA is the largest private-education association gathering in the United States of America and draws participants from all facets of Catholic education, including elementary and secondary schools, parish religious education programs, seminaries, colleges and universities. The aim of the conference is to exchange ideas and debut cutting-edge research and technologies related to education. The event offered more than 300 professional development sessions, beautiful liturgies, networking events and an exhibition of educational products and services.
The workshop, Building a Community of Faith: The Key to Stronger School, Family and Parish Relationships, informed participants of the Family Educator Project being implemented across the Archdiocese by the Catholic Education Office Sydney. The Advisor for the Family Educator Project, Mrs Meredith Lemos, presented a 90 minute workshop on the nature of the project, and shared the practical ways our Sydney systemic Catholic primary schools are endeavouring to effectively provide opportunities to strengthen the faith of parents, connect families with the religious life of the school and parish, and strengthen relationships between school, family and parish, through the role of the Family Educator. The presentation concluded with the three Family Educator Regional Mentors (FERMs), Mrs Mouna Roche, Mrs Mary Pollinger and Mrs Paige Bullen, taking the floor to competently respond to questions from participants about the varied initiatives implemented through the hard work of the Family Educators.
“When my proposal to present at the conference was accepted in September 2014, I was so excited to be able to share the aims of the Family Educator Project. Sharing the great initiatives undertaken by the hard-working, dedicated family educators in 70 of our primary schools, that endeavour to re-ignite and strengthen the faith of the parents/families in our communities, was a huge privilege and honour.” Mrs Lemos went on to acknowledge the support of the Director of Religious Education & Evangelisation, Mr Anthony Cleary. “I am always appreciative of Anthony’s trust in my ability to co-ordinate the Family Educator project and particularly his support in submitting a proposal to speak of the FE Project internationally. The fact that Anthony also suggested that the FERMs attend the conference with me, shows his genuine dedication to professional development of staff and his commitment to Family Evangelisation through endorsing the FE Project.”
Official evaluations of the workshop are yet to be received from the NCEA. However seeing the engagement of the participants, the questions asked during the Q&A session (and then for a long period after the workshop had concluded), the informal, enthusiastic positive comments and congratulatory remarks from participants given in passing throughout the following days of the conference, plus the emails since received requesting further information of initiatives shared, it is safe to say that many people will be affected by the ripple effect of the Family Educator Project from ‘Down Under’!