2021 Professional Development Calendar

Please click the image below to access the 2021 Mission and identity Professional Development Calendar.

This Calendar contains opportunities offered by the Mission and Identity Team, in the following categories:

  • 200 Years of Catholic Education
  • Faith Formation
  • Youth Ministry
  • Religious Leadership and Professional Development
  • Religious Education Curriculum Professional Development
  • Additional Events

Please note that some of the offerings are targeted at specific roles and/or may have eligibility requirements. For further information regarding any of the opportunities, please contact the event coordinator listed under each event.

Holy Week and Easter Prayer Resources

As we approach the holiest of times in the Christian calendar, we are reminded of connecting our own personal suffering with the suffering of Jesus. Jesus did not come to take away suffering, but to bring meaning to it through his life, death and resurrection.

The resources below are intended to stimulate personal reflection as we journey through Holy Week. You are invited to choose one of the resource options provided:

Option A uses both sacred art and daily reflection. Option B focuses on The Stations of the Cross, which are ordinarily associated with Good Friday only. In this instance, they are used on each of the days of Holy Week.

May this week be a time when we deepen our own relationship with Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Option A:

Daily Prayers and Reflections for Holy Week and Easter

Option B:Stations of the Cross to Pray During Holy Week
PowerPoint Presentation
PDF Booklet

Additional Prayer Resources

Prayers in a Time of Pandemic – Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
Post your Prayer Intentions, and pray for the intentions of others
Prayer Service for Tired Teachers and Support Staff
PDF Booklet
Microsoft Word

A framework for Shared Mission

Catholic Parishes and Schools: A framework for Shared Mission

The purpose of this framework is to strengthen the relationship between parishes and schools and to support parish and school personnel in working effectively together. There are many areas of mission where both the parish and the school have shared responsibilities. This framework is addressed to all who work in ministry in parishes and schools, and indeed, those parishioners and families involved. It is, however, in a particular way, addressed to Parish Priests and Principals, who have leadership roles with both civil and canonical responsibility.

The document outlines guiding principles for effective shared mission and details six key areas of interest and collaboration between parishes and schools:

  1. Governance of Parish Schools
  2. Spiritual Formation of Children and their Families
  3. Pastoral Care
  4. Human Resources
  5. Parish School Facilities and Planning
  6. Sydney Catholic Schools Office

This framework was developed through extensive consultation with priests, principals and senior personnel from the Archdiocese of Sydney and Sydney Catholic Schools.

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:

‘How happy are the poor in spirit:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’

Mt 5:1-12

One of the most widely recognised Gospel passages is the Beatitudes, more commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ great teaching discourse parallels with Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (6:20-26), set by the Sea of Galilee. Matthew’s account takes place on a mountain so as to reinforce Jesus as the new Moses, a recurring theme of the Gospel. Unlike Moses who ascends the mountain to receive the law from Yahweh (Ex: 19-20), Jesus is the giver of the new law and he is the source of the new Covenant.

Matthew inserted this discourse to call for an authentic interpretation of the spirit of the Law of Moses. Rather than observing Mosaic Law through blind practice and shallow piety, as was the case with the Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus preached that true righteousness is found by living out the Beatitudes. The word for ‘Blessed’ in Greek is Makarios, which denotes one’s righteousness before God.

The Beatitudes are a set of blessings which bring true happiness, many of them drawn from the Old Testament (Isaiah and Psalms). This is in keeping with Matthew’s Gospel on the whole, which quotes the Hebrew Scriptures some forty one times. The Beatitudes follow a distinctive pattern and logic. Each blessing builds upon the one before it; the beatitude of spiritual poverty is thus the foundation for all of them. According to St Augustine, the first seven beatitudes correspond to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Is 11:2), while the eighth beatitude summarises the first seven.

One might wonder how being ‘poor in spirit’ or ‘mournful’ or ‘hungering for justice’ will bring happiness or be considered to be a blessing. It is when one cultivates these qualities however i.e. gentleness, mercy, peacefulness that there is a total reliance and dependence on God, and thus ultimate happiness is found.

Anthony Cleary
Director, Mission & Identity

Third Sunday in Ordinary time – Year A

Hearing that John had been arrested Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:

Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan,
Galilee of the nations!
The people that lived in darkness
has seen a great light;
on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death
a light has dawned.

From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’ As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they left their nets at once and followed him.

Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.

He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people.

Mt 4:12-23

Throughout his Gospel, Matthew repeats the verse ‘all of this occurred so that Scripture might be fulfilled.’ This passage, which explores the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, is no different. In leaving his hometown of Nazareth and settling in Capernaum Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah, who assured the descendants of Zebulun and Naphtali (two of the sons of Jacob i.e. the twelve tribes of Israel) “the people that walked in darkness has seen a great light … you have made their gladness greater … they rejoice in your presence” (Is: 8:23). For Matthew, Jesus’ ministry will be a great light that conquers the darkness of the people who live in a “land of deep shadow”. It will be a light that brings both gladness and joy. It is important to note that Jesus begins his public ministry in Galilee, which retained a significant population of non-Jews. By virtue of his Galilean ministry, Jesus foreshadows his own sending out of the disciples, so that they might go out and preach to all nations, Jew and Gentile alike (28:19-20).

“Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men” is the simple invitation that Jesus extends to his first disciples. Their occupation as fishermen foreshadows their future mission, when Christ will send them to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Peter, the first called, will have a leading role among the Twelve (Acts 1:15; 2:14; 15:7). The disciples immediately respond to Christ’s invitation, leaving their boats and nets to follow him, thus highlighting that Christian discipleship demands a loose attachment to worldly things and a willingness to part with them. This is especially evidenced in Luke’s Gospel (5:28; 12:33; 14:33; 18:22). Those who do give up everything for the sake of the Kingdom will receive in return “a hundred fold” (18:29-30).

The response of Peter and Andrew, James and John is in stark contrast to the rich young man who, because of his attachment to worldly things, was unable to accept Jesus’ invitation to follow him.  True Christian discipleship is challenging. We are often afraid, and the sacrifices are great, but so too are the rewards. We should not be afraid to be called by Christ, or for that matter, caught by Christ. Christ is the ultimate fisher of men. St Cyril of Jerusalem assured early Christians “you now find yourself in the fishing nets of Christ. Let yourselves be caught. Christ wants to capture you not to harm you but to give you life out of death.”

How do you respond to Christ’s invitation “Come, follow me”?

Anthony Cleary,
Director, Mission and Identity

The Nativity of the Lord – Year A

In the beginning was the Word:

the Word was with God

and the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things came to be,

not one thing had its being but through him.

All that came to be had life in him

and that life was the light of men,

a light that shines in the dark,

a light that darkness could not overpower.

The Word was the true light

that enlightens all men;

and he was coming into the world.

He was in the world

that had its being through him,

and the world did not know him.

He came to his own domain

and his own people did not accept him.

But to all who did accept him

he gave power to become children of God,

to all who believe in the name of him

who was born not out of human stock

or urge of the flesh

or will of man

but of God himself.

The Word was made flesh,

he lived among us.

And we saw his glory,

the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father,

full of grace and truth.

Jn 1:1-5. 9-14

God sent a present into the world, the gift of a loving presence named Jesus. The Gospel stories indicate that Jesus gave few material things to people.  What he gave most was his personal presence, gifts that were treasures of the heart: belief in self, inner healing, peace of mind, compassion, forgiveness, dignity, and justice. This loving presence lives on in us and is the central focus of Christmas gift-giving.

Sharing the gift of personal presence means that we see ourselves as a gift holding the goodness of Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us. Like Jesus, we can give from our inner abundance, gifts from the heart.  Moments lovingly spent with another, for another through prayer or through personal presence, carry more beauty and have more endurance than anything material we could give. What greater things could we share than gifts that reflect the great love we have known in the person of Jesus: our care and concern, our hope, our joy, our understanding and forgiveness, our kindness, our patience, our acceptance of how things and people are?

When we think of our hurried pace of life, we see how Advent gets lost in the Christmas rush. The messages are all around us: ‘Buy this and you will be happy; buy that and you will show your love.’ Sharing presence is hard in a culture that keeps promoting material things as a sign of how much we love others. Sharing presence is difficult in an environment that encourages us to be as busy as possible so that we will be rich, successful, important, and able to buy more things.

When we are busy it is easy to miss awareness and communion with those around us and with those in our larger world. Advent is a good season to be more deliberate in sharing ‘the present of our presence’. It may be through a phone call, a letter, a visit, or through the bonding of prayer as we focus love and attention toward those who need the strength of God to be with them. We may think of other ways to share our presence in order to deliberately choose being over doing. When the feast of Christmas arrives, may we be more aware of the power of Emmanuel’s presence within us and our ability to warm the lives of others because of this gift of love.

Anthony Cleary,
Director, Mission and Identity

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Year A

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,

a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’. When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.

Mt 1:18-24

The purpose behind Matthew’s Gospel account is to relate the miraculous nature of Jesus’ birth and how it fulfils venerable prophecy. Matthew’s Gospel opens with the details of Jesus’ genealogy. This passage serves to complete this genealogy and highlight that Jesus truly was a descendant of David. Both Mary and Joseph were from the town of Bethlehem, i.e. the House of David.

According to the common opinion of ancient Fathers and theologians of the Church, Mary and Joseph were espoused as the first stage to being formally married. During the time of espousals, the future husband and wife did not live together and saw each other but rarely; they could, however, have sexual intercourse, and any child conceived during this period was not illegitimate, either in public opinion or before the Law. If any one violated another’s spouse they were regarded as an adulterer.

Tradition tells us that from the very beginning of their espousal Mary and Joseph had agreed to make a vow of perpetual virginity, hence Joseph’s shock at discovering that Mary was with child. According to the Law, Mary was liable to be stoned to death. However, Joseph lacked the necessary two witnesses required under the Law. In any case, Joseph preferred to spare Mary any such indignity.

Joseph received comfort from the Angel of the Lord (Gabriel) that the conception of the child in Mary’s womb was due to the Holy Spirit. This is the so-called ‘virgin birth’, or ‘incarnation’ of the Son of God, is evidenced in verses 18, 20, 23 and 25 in this same chapter. ‘Incarnation’ means ‘to take flesh.’ Matthew goes on to make the point that Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit fulfils the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14.

The angel assures Joseph that he can take Mary home as his wife and for the expectant child,  “you must name him Jesus“: The name ‘Jesus’, which in Hebrew was ‘Yeshu’,  means ‘Yahweh saves’, or ‘Salvation of God’ and originates from the name Joshua. Exclusive to Matthew’s Gospel account is the term ‘Emmanuel’ meaning ‘God with us’ a reminder that this event was the fulfillment of Scripture (Isaiah 7:14). O Come Emmanuel.

First Sunday in Advent – Year A

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of Man comes. For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept all away. It will be like this when the Son of Man comes. Then of two men in the fields one is taken, one left; of two women at the millstone grinding, one is taken, one left.

‘So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming. You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house. Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’

Mt 24:37-44

The Church has always believed and taught that Jesus will “come again to judge the living and the dead”, a profession made in both the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. In this discourse Jesus is emphasising the need to be spiritually prepared for this time of judgement. No one knows the exact ‘hour’ when Jesus will return, however, it could occur at any time.

There is an obvious need to avoid extremes when contemplating matters relating to the ‘end times.’ The first extreme is to assert with certainly that ‘the end is nigh.’ To hold such a belief could lead one to develop a ‘bunker mentality’ that results in withdrawing from the world or neglecting necessary duties. The second extreme is to believe that Christ is never returning or that his return is in the far and distant future.

In Matthew’s Gospel Christ is warning us specifically against this second attitude. To believe that there will never be a parousia or second coming or that Jesus’ return is only a remote possibility in a distant future could cause some to become spiritually self-serving.  Only by ‘staying awake’ can we be truly ready for Christ’s eventual return. Those not ready will be “taken,” that is, swept away, while the righteous will be mercifully spared.

There is a further dimension to Jesus’ warnings. Jesus will not only return at the end of the world, but he also ‘returns’ to each person at the moment of death. Therefore the warning to be ready for Christ’s return is equally as applicable in relation to being ready for our own death. Death, like Jesus’ return, is very much like a ‘thief in the night’ that strikes when we are most unaware. It is important therefore to take heed and remember that while one may not know the time and place of death, for such knowledge rests only with God the Father (Mat 24:36) we should remain awake for this inevitable moment and be spiritually prepared.

Anthony Cleary
Director, Mission & identity