ASREAP Conference

ASREAP convenes an annual three-day professional development conference, as well as other events to support Religious Education professionals in Catholic secondary schools such as “Nuts & Bolts Day”.  ASREAP is made up of members from Religious Institute schools and Catholic Education systemic schools interested in professional development, dialogue and innovation to enhance the authenticity of Catholic secondary schools.

2018 Conference Report July 22 to 24

Theme: New Horizons

This year’s ASREAP Conference centred on spirituality, the arts, the imagination and the Year of Youth. For the conference, entitled “New Horizons”, the organising committee was keen to challenge delegates to see things from a different perspective. Consequently, our opening day was based at Brisbane’s South Bank, with an inspiring welcome at kuril dhagun at the State Library of Qld.

An insight into Aboriginal spirituality preceded two options – an exploration of youth voice at the Gallery of Modern Art and a walk around South Brisbane based on the Stations of the Cross. Both options were popular and delegates commended the imagination on show. Dinner at Mu’Ooz gave a wonderful insight into this social enterprise, set up to ensure Eritrean immigrant women could utilise their skills to contribute to their family. A tremendous sense of solidarity was strengthened over the breaking of bread. On Monday, we moved to the ACU Leadership Centre, adjacent to St Stephen’s Cathedral. The day started with all delegates contributing their imagination to the creation of a collective rice mandala, a symbol that would underpin the next two days.

Jessica Hackett presented the first keynote. A former English and Drama teacher at Melbourne’s Killester College, Jessica shared her story of walking from Melbourne to Canberra in order to demonstrate to politicians the welcome Australians want to give to refugees and asylum seekers. She has since turned her story into a one person show and her keynote included excerpts from this show as she explored her commitment to Catholic Social Teachings in action.

Professor David Tacey was the second keynote presenter. His focus was on how the arts provide an outlet for Australian spirituality. He explored how Aboriginal culture, Australian literature and multiple artists have contributed to a unique spirituality in this ancient land.

Ellen Jacobsen, Social Impact Manager from HoMie, shared her story as a young Melbourne woman who is committed to doing something about homelessness and spoke about the way that HoMie responds to this scourge on our society. She was followed by others who had set up trade tables, all sharing services and partnerships with delegates.

Monday afternoon was all about workshops. These included explorations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island spirituality, drumming, sustainable jewellery making, crosses of hope and nurturing the creative spirit. We ended Monday with a moving celebration of Eucharist in the Mary MacKIllop Chapel and our Conference Dinner. At the Dinner, we supported the Unknown Project, a social enterprise working to connect young people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds with resources and opportunities. We also celebrated the wonderful contribution to ASREAP of our latest Life Member, Kieran Donnelly.

On Tuesday, we heard from one of the gurus of Religious Education in Australia, Graham Rossiter. Graham led us through a discussion of what might be beyond the horizon for contemporary RE, challenging us to ensure our approach is life giving and relevant. We finished the conference listening to the voice of youth. Rhianna Patrick chaired a panel of young people discussing how the arts and imagination contribute to their spirituality. Steph Unger then shared some of the plans for the rest of the Year of Youth and gave ideas about how to build on it. Our final prayer saw the rice mandala destroyed and the challenge of the new horizons brought to the front of our mind.

Sadly, since the conference, it was discovered that a glitch in communications meant all information was only shared within the Brisbane Archdiocese so we look forward to returning to a truly state-wide conference again in 2019. Watch this space!

Last Updated: 15 May 2018