These teachers, who felt their vocation as educators extends beyond teaching school curriculum, attended the once-a-week sessions from February 2006 to October 2007. This formation programme for educators in Catholic schools included:
– The personal value system of the Catholic educator and that of the Catholic school and how to merge the gap between the ideal held and the actual experienced.
– Sharpening awareness of God’s presence and strengthening prayerful discernment.
– How to recognize God in present day culture and thinking.
– Moral theology.
– Interreligious dialogue and ecumenism.
– Social teachings.
– Dei Verbum and Salvation History.
Principal of Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) St. Theresa’s Convent Pauline Wong signed up for this RE course to learn what makes a Catholic mission school because she realized that she was running a Catholic school "not much differently from how I would run a secular school".
Though she had to juggle between her work and the programme, which required "lots of prayer, reading, reflection and assignments", she found the experience "very enriching".
She said that formation for Catholic educators in Catholic schools is important because they can’t give to their students what they themselves do not have.
The motivation to set a personal example as an educator was also on the mind of Cecilia Lim, principal of CHIJ Our Lady Queen of Peace. She said, "When I was tasked with leading a Catholic school, I was looking for some form of structured programme or training for myself as a leader of a Catholic school, and for my teachers who are Catholic educators, so that I can be sure that what we do will provide pupils with the learning and growth experience that a Catholic school should rightly provide. To me the key difference in a Catholic school would be the opportunities we provide to our pupils and staff for Religious Education and development of spirituality."
The RE graduates have begun to apply in their schools what they have learned.
Ms Lim said that "daily morning prayers and reflections are now more focused on sharpening the awareness of God’s presence in our daily lives" at her school.
She added that a greater awareness of the social teachings of the church has enabled more focused planning of community involvement and civics and moral education programmes for pupils, and the module "Philosophy – God" has helped the teachers to enhance the pupils’ experience of God.