Intercultural and Interfaith Understanding that Empowers ‘Living the Golden Rule’ Mt 12:7

Staff Professional Development Day

On Monday 12 July, the St Joseph’s College staff gathered to begin the term participating in a professional development day to explore our theme for the year to, ‘Live the Golden Rule in the Year of St Joseph’. Last year we received a Grant from the Jewish Christian Muslim Association and Together for Humanity to further some of our strategic goals including:

To engage students and staff in inter-faith dialogue.

Enhance the Catholic Identity of our students.

Develop cultural awareness through local and global connected learning experiences Develop student advocacy skills.

Create mechanisms to encourage and recognise students who speak up and take action to challenge injustice.

Promote the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and spirituality to students and the community.

Develop knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culture and histories promoting pride and respect through staff PD, and curriculum.

We began very proudly announcing that on 29 June our Koorie Education Worker, Sue Collins, was awarded the NATSICC (National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council) Community Service Elder Award for 2021. Lauren Hall our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Coordinator, nominated Sue on behalf of the Catholic Colleges of Geelong she works with, “We nominated Sue for all her amazing work with our First Nations students. Sue works tirelessly across our Geelong Catholic Colleges to support these students and their families. Sue is also an incredible wealth of knowledge and so generous in guiding us to further our knowledge and understanding when teaching about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, issues and culture.” We congratulated Sue as we presented her with her award and flowers for the recognition of the way she teaches us each day to ‘Live out the Golden Rule’, in our College communities.

We were pleased to welcome Guest Presenters, Ginette Everest - Executive Officer Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia (JCMA) via a live online presentation and Ian L Grant PhD joined us on Campus as the Education Project Office at the Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia (JCMA). Ian and Ginette led a through series of sessions to raise our teachers’ intercultural and interfaith awareness and to upskill staff with key intercultural understandings, sensitivities and competencies. We aim to help our community to grow and change in understanding that empowers us to live the Golden Rule, to ‘treat others as you want to be treated,’ Mt 12:7.

One session focussed on Catholic Social Teachings, which are critical for reading the "signs of the times" that shape our world today. Catholic social teaching is central to our faith, and is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and dignity. These teachings are derived from: the Gospels and the words of Christ; papal statements and encyclicals; and Catholic Bishops’ statements and pastoral letters. Catholic Social Teaching calls us all to work for the common good, help build a just society, uphold the dignity of human life and lift the vulnerable.

Our Edmund Rice Touchstones echo the Catholic Social Teachings, which call us to help prepare our students to enter into dialogue with the many people they will encounter as they graduate and move away from the familiarity of their educational home for six years at St Joseph’s College. As our students progress, out of the gates, to meet ‘the other,’ filled with the same human dignity as them, in their place of further study, apprenticeship, employment or future family. May they be prepared to enter into dialogue which implies, speaking and listening, giving and receiving, mutual growth and enrichment. It is based, on witness to one’s faith as well as openness to the culture or religion of another.

A student recently responded to a survey question on intercultural and interfaith dialogue with: ‘I would like to see it happening as people sharing their different celebrations, and talking to people from different religions to see how we can communicate and understand people better.’ We look forward to celebrating our Inclusive Community Touchstone in Diversity Week next week.