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  • 2016 Religious Education Conference 


    Be Witnesses of God’s Mercy 

    The 2016 Catholic Education Melbourne Religious Education Conference was held on Thursday 14 and Friday 15 July 2016 at the Catholic Leadership Centre. The theme of the conference was: Be Witnesses of God’s Mercy 



    To Witness Mercy is to Encounter - Mercy and the Educator  

    Dr Maureen O’Connell  

    Dr Maureen O’Connell is Chair of the Department of Religion at La Salle University in Philadelphia, where she is also an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics. 

    Maureen skilfully set the tone for our conference by exploring the significance of mercy in the Catholic tradition and giving us the opportunity to reflect on ways that mercy shapes why we do what we do as teachers and how we do our work in our school communities and classrooms.

    Maureen further suggested a three-fold cycle and framework for engaging with thinking about the mercy of God:


    • Orientation, where our pattern of thinking is familiar, conventional, secure; 
    • Disorientation, in which our thinking is interrupted and we become vulnerable; 
    • Re-orientation or transformation in which we come to a new way of being and new understandings about ourselves, our lives, our world and God. 


    Mercy as a way of transformation reorients us towards healing and wholeheartedness. This means that we have to acknowledge our own role in the suffering and hurt of others, either directly or indirectly and actively seeking to change this in some positive way. Reaching out to others in mercy is a way of transforming both ourselves and others. It asks us to detach ourselves from what we idolise, from the way we interpret the world and make space for other ways of seeing and being in the world.



    Encountering Christ in the Wounds of the World: The Church as Field Hospital  

    Dr William Cavanaugh  

    William Cavanaugh, is the director of the Centre for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology and professor of Catholic studies at DePaul University, Chicago. 

    The presentation he shared with us has its roots in his latest book Field Hospital: the Church’s Engagement with a Wounded World 1. 

    Cavanaugh used references from scripture and spoke to key artworks as he invited us to walk with him as we examined the wounds of Christ, what they are and what they might mean to us today. To take us to this space, Cavanaugh used Caravaggio’s The Incredulity of Saint Thomas. This famous painting depicts the moment when Jesus says to Thomas, ‘put your finger here and put it in my side’ John 20:27. Caravaggio shows Jesus taking Thomas’ hand and guiding it to the wound in his side. This painting reminds us that it is Christ himself that personally invites us into this space of self-examination. The words of Richard Rohr express this beautifully. He explains that ‘this is how wounds become sacred wounds. This is the pattern of all authentic conversion in the Christian economy of grace: not around, not under, not over, but through the wound we are healed and saved’ 2. 

    1. Cavanagh, William T.  Field Hospital: the Church’s Engagement with a Wounded World.  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Cambridge, 2016. 

    2. Rohr, Richard.  On the Threshold of Transformation: Daily Mhref="#ref1"editations for Men. Loyola Press: Chicago, 2010, p.256. 



    Session Title 


    Dr Maureen O’Connell

    To Witness is to Encounter: Mercy and the Educator 

    Adobe PDF icon GIFKeynote 

    Prof William Cavanaugh

    Encountering Christ in the Wounds of the World

    Adobe PDF icon GIFKeynote 




    Chris Morris

    Meditation for the Catholic School

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation
    Adobe PDF icon GIFHandout  

    Denis Torpy , Lina Di Paolo, Tom Brunzell

    Enabling full flourishing: Student wellbeing, grace & mercy 

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation    

    Dr Brendan Hyde

    To Be or Not to Be Mercy

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

    Dr Paul Sharkey

    Religious Leadership in the Catholic School

    Adobe PDF icon GIFHandout 

    Fr Chris Monoghan

    What Pope Francis Teachers Us about our Mission as Catholic Schools

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation
    Adobe PDF icon GIFHandout 

    Fr Max Vodola

    Pope Francis, Vatican II and the Medicine of Mercy

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

    Mary Jones

    Stories of Practice – RE Framework Renewal

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

    Mary Ryan

    Parish-School Connections – Celebrating Strong Catholic Identity

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

    Matthew Stead, Tina Segulin Dennis Daly

    Navigating the Intersections

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

    Megan Bourke

    Caritas and the Year of Mercy

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

    Br Michael Herry

    Singing the Mercy of God

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

    Michelle Pereira and
    Cheyne Pettit

    Faith and Action: Working towards a more just and compassionate society

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

    Moira Cosgriff and Lisa Hughes

    Building a Culture of Prayer: Daily prayer and rich prayer resources

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

    Pat Sully, Joe Doolan, Matthew Castanelli & Kat Bowden

    From Paper to Digital – The Digital Enrichment of To Know Worship and Love

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

    Patrick Jurd

    Music, Music and Young People  

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

    Paul Fumei

    Religious Leadership – An opportunity to witness to the Good News

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

    Peter Hay

    Exploring a Spirituality of Mercy for Community Engagement Programs (Community Action)  

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

    Rina Madden

    Spirituality and Pedagogy

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

    Sam Clear

    Growing in Mercy

    Adobe PDF icon GIFPresentation 

     Conference Streams   

    The conference workshops were organised in four streams:  

     Spirituality  To live a Christian spirituality is to attend to what is of God and to grow as disciples of Jesus. Spiritual practices are conscious, intentional actions that are a practical expression of our faith. 
     Witness  Catholic educators are called to witness to their faith through both word and deed. They are called to engage in dialogue, sharing something of themselves with those they encounter. 
     Religious Leadership   Religious leadership explicitly engages with a Catholic vision of the world. Leaders make meaningful connections for themselves between the tradition that they profess and the world in which they live, and they lead others to do the same. 
     Learning and Teaching  Learning brings hope. Catholic educators see learning as a journey of endless possibilities where all are energised.  This includes seeking meaning and exploring questions about the world. 

    Conference Features 


    Caring for Creation 

    Guided Dialogue 

    Field of Mercy Installation  


  • 'Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.' (Luke 6: 36)