Teachers, catechists and parent volunteers who took part in a religious education programme recently gave it the thumbs up.
“I learnt methods of making Bible stories come alive, giving students the opportunity to actively participate,” said Mr Anthony Xavier, a parent volunteer at St Stephen’s and St Patrick’s schools.
Ms Yvone Yagappan from St Francis Xavier Kindergarten commented, “It was entertaining, spiritual, and has put me and others on ‘fire’ to go and do the same in our school!”
Mr Xavier and Ms Yagappan were among the 40 participants who attended the June 2-5 programme called REAP (Religious Education Access Programme), organised by the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS).
REAP connects art, drama, music and literature with religious education. It aims to equip teachers and catechists to engage children in a creative learning journey about the Bible and Church teachings.
A five-member team of senior religious education trainers from the Brisbane Catholic Education Office (BCEO) in Australia facilitated the programme, which was held at the Church of the Nativity Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Over the four days, participants immersed themselves in activities which saw them prayerfully meditate on the stories of the bible.
One parent volunteer, Ms Lisa Ho from SJI Junior, commented that she enjoyed one segment called the Labyrinth Activity.
“It is useful to teach kids that the path to a goal is not always straight,” she said. “We can get lost and find our way around and get back on track.”
Ms Catherine Ong, a catechist from the Church of St Ignatius, shared: “From REAP, I have once again been touched by how rich and beautiful our Catholic faith is, and I am very excited to share all that I have learnt with the children that I catechise.”
Participants also welcomed the suggestion of forming social networking groups using applications such as WhatsApp or Facebook. A teacher exchange programme with the Brisbane Catholic Education Office is scheduled for 2015.
As a followup to the recent REAP programme, ACCS says it will facilitate regular workshops and programmes for capacity building in religious education. These would be further sustained through social media platforms for educators across the various schools and parishes.
REAP is part of the curriculum in Brisbane archdiocese to train teachers in religious education to give them a strong foundation in Church teaching, theology and liturgy.
It was introduced to Singapore in 2012 through a collaboration between ACCS and BCEO.