RE Conference 2018

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Religious Education Conference 2018

The Catholic Education Melbourne Religious Education Conference 2018 took place at the Catholic Leadership Centre, 576 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 July 2018.

The conference theme, Open New Horizons for Spreading Joy, was an opportunity for school staff and parishes to come together to dialogue, engage in workshops and explore the theme of Spreading Joy.

The RE Conference has reinforced that our Catholic schools are in very good hands indeed! Teachers, principals and CEM staff alike were all fully engaged and ready to take on the challenge to further inspire our students with the message of Pope Francis.’ Marina Berardi, REL, Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, Fitzroy.

This conference has reinforced how vital it is that we continue to strengthen our Catholic Identity in all our schools. Listening to the speakers they all had the same message that through prayer, celebrating, belonging, learning and reaching out we can all be part of the New Horizon!’ Rita Vella, REL, St Mary of the Cross Catholic Primary School, Point Cook.

It was great to get so many religious educators together in one place … being inspired, networking and sharing with others.’ Ann Maree Ennis, REL, Christ the Priest Catholic Primary School, Caroline Springs.

Open New Horizons for Spreading Joy

The conference theme, ‘Open New Horizons for Spreading Joy’, is aligned with the official theme of the 2018 Australian Catholic Bishops’ Year of Youth: ‘Open New Horizons for Spreading Joy: Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment’, which is also the theme of the Synod of Bishops to be held in Rome in October this year.


The theme is inspired by an address Pope Francis gave to young people at the Vigil at World Youth Day Krakow 2016, where he called us ‘To blaze trails that open up new horizons capable of spreading joy, the joy that is born of God's love and wells up in your hearts with every act of mercy’.

‘My friends, Jesus the Lord of risk, he is the Lord of the eternal “more”. Jesus is not the Lord of comfort, security and ease. Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths. To blaze trails that open up new horizons for spreading joy, the joy that is born of God’s love and wells up in your hearts with every act of mercy. To take the path of “craziness” of our God, who teaches us to encounter him in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the friend in trouble, the prisoner, the refugee and the migrant, and our neighbours who feel abandoned.  To take the path of our God, who encounter us to be politicians, thinkers, social activists. The God who encourages us to a devise an economy marked by greater solidarity than our own.  In all the settings in which you find yourselves, God’s love invites you to bring the Good News, making of your own lives a gift to him and to others.  This means being courageous, this means being free!’

Pope Francis, World Youth Day Vigil with Young People, 30 July 2016

Pope Francis continues to challenge young people of the world to boldly engage with their faith, their relationship with Jesus and the world. 

Catholic Education Melbourne’s Religious Education Conference was an opportunity for leaders and teachers from our Catholic schools and priests, leaders and catechists from our parishes to come together in dialogue, be inspired by our speakers and presenters, engage in workshops and reflect on key issues in our work with children and young people. 

Together may we embrace this call of Pope Francis as we reflect, learn, engage with our faith, Jesus, each other and the world, and open new horizons for spreading joy.




Speakers at the conference include the keynote speakers below and many others. Details of all our speakers can be found here.


Dr Emmanuel Nathan
Head of School of Theology, ACUDr-Emmanuel-Nathan

Dr Maeve Louise Heaney
Faculty of Theology & Philosophy, ACUDr Maeve Louise Heaney

Angela Markas

Angela Markas

Dr Emmanuel Nathan is the National Head of the School of Theology at the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, ACU. He is also a lecturer in biblical studies, a member of the faculty’s Interreligious Dialogue Network, and coordinator of the short courses in theology for Sydney and NSW. He is an adjunct member of ACU’s La Salle Academy for Faith Formation and Religious Education, and serves as an external member of the Academic Board of the Catholic Institute of Sydney. Emmanuel holds a PhD (Sacrae Theologiae Doctor) from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. Dr Maeve Louise Heaney is a lecturer in the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at ACU and a consecrated missionary of a Catholic Institute for Consecrated Life, the Verbum Dei Community. She completed her licentiate and doctorate at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, during which time she was doctoral representative and a member of the university Senate. As a musician and composer, she interweaves the fields of theological aesthetics, spirituality and the arts, with a specialisation in the symbolic form of music in theological reflection. Angela Markas is a woman of deep faith and a strong sense of social justice. Angela was chosen to represent young Australian Catholics at the Pre-Synod Gathering in Rome to prepare for the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, which will be held in October 2018. Angela, a member of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Melbourne, is currently studying at the University of Melbourne and, in addition to her involvement in her parish, she is involved in a range of initiatives to support people who are homeless, those who are vulnerable and those who are marginalised.

Helena Goldsmith, Liturgy & Social Justice Coordinator, Genazzano FCJ College, thanks Dr Emmanuel NathanKeynote Presentations

Keynote Presentation 1 - Dr Emmanuel Nathan - ACU.

Charting New Horizons: Retelling the Story of Abraham and Isaac Masterclass.

Charting New Horizons: Retelling the Story of Abraham and Isaac Today.

A brilliant keynote. The parallels drawn by Emmanuel using Wilfred Owen and the Old Testament were both deep and insightful.’ Robyn Roland, Assistant Dean of Faith & Mission, St Kevin’s College, Toorak.

The unpacking of the story of Abraham and Isaac captured my imagination and built on my knowledge of scripture.’ Trish Armstrong, Principal, Lumen Christi Catholic Primary School, Point Cook.

Bob Brown, Principal, St Matthew’s Catholic Primary School, Fawkner, thanks Dr Maeve Heaney.

Keynote Presentation 2 - Dr Maeve Louise Heaney - ACU.

Beauty’s Freedom and the Importance of Questioning. From Whence the Creative Leaders of the Future?

Masterclass - Dr Emmanuel Nathan & Dr Janine Luttick - ACU.

‘Maeve was the highlight of the conference – she was so knowledgeable, talented, engaging and really serving as a true missionary.’ Kathleen Ronchi, Acting Principal/REL, St Macartan’s Catholic Primary School, Mornington.


Armchair Reflections with Angela Markas

Angela – Armchair ReflectionsAngela is an inspiration and a great example of Christian youth. Her speech to Pope Francis and the Cardinals was very gutsy as she posed the hard questions which need to be addressed.’ Bob Brown, Principal St Matthew’s Catholic Primary School, Fawkner.

It was valuable to hear from a young presenter that reflects the contemporary climate of our classrooms. To have Angela’s voice paired with Pope Francis was even more powerful!’ Christina Symons, Director of Mission & Social Justice, Sacred Heart College, Geelong.

In light of Angela’s reflections, please find associated links to the Pre-Synod Gathering:


Conference Streams

Conference workshops are in five streams to highlight the dimensions identified in the Horizons of Hope Foundation Statement: The Religious Dimension of the Catholic School:

Praying -Through prayer, the sacred is acknowledged, assented to and celebrated.

Presentation / Workshop Title & Synopsis Presenter Presenter Photo
Prayer Spaces in Schools.
In what may be the first occurrence of Prayer Spaces within Anglican schools in Australia, Susan introduced the English concept of Prayer Spaces in 2014. The initial Prayer Space was put together for a cohort of hyped up year six students after attending the secondary campus as part of their transition into year 7. Within the space an extraordinary change occurred. The children began to reflect, and peacefulness transcended; a sense of the Divine was palpable.  Through this very practical and hands on workshop, Susan will discuss the concept of Prayer Spaces in Schools from her own experience at St John's Anglican College, a diverse community of many cultures, of various Christian and other faith traditions. Susan will explore spirituality and prayer, and how Prayer Spaces can contribute positively to these important aspects in the life of a school.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Rev Susan Crothers-Robertson
Reverend Susan Crothers-Robertson is the College Chaplain at St John's Anglican College, Forest Lake Brisbane.  In 20 years as an Anglican Priest, her service to the Church has included many different roles; from being priest in charge of a parish, Canon Pastor at St John's Cathedral Brisbane, Director of Formation and Lecturer in Pastoral Theology and since 2014 has been St John's College Chaplain.
Photo of Rev Susan Crothers-Robertson
Creativity & Prayer.
In the beginning of our church the faithful gathered to pray surrounded by walls covered with images to support their thoughts.  We have examples of the early church using a symbolic language to protect the secret they were followers of Jesus.  In the Middle Ages churches had glass windows that were like giant story books.  With the development of the printing press the word and not the image became all important. We now live in a different time with the development of digital media.  The symbol has come alive with the emoji.  My dream is for our traditional religious symbols to become emojis – some already are. In my work as an artist, a drawing or image does not happen if I have not prayed about it.  I am inspired by the scriptures; they are so full of images so why do we not use them to make beautiful contemporary art?  I will show you my favourite Christian symbols and how to use them.  So charge up your iPad download ‘Procreate’, ‘Graphic’ or ‘Artset’ or any other art app that looks interesting.  Be crazy, forget you are not arty, change your shoes and set out on uncharted paths, draw and play.  I will have paper and pens if you do not feel comfortable with technology.  You will find this workshop most helpful for mindfulness and meditation in your classroom.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Sr Susan Daily IBVM OAM
Sr Susan Daily is a talented Religious Graphic Artist.  Susan entered the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the 1960s.  She studied Fashion Design at Emily McPherson College which began her passion for design and colour.  Her interest in Graphic Art was further developed at Toorak State College where she studied Educational Technology.  Susan’s skills have been further enhanced through her interest in Contemporary Church Art, with travel throughout Europe, the Holy Land and remote Australia.   Susan specialises in silk painting and religious graphics using a variety of medium and technology.  In 2014 Susan received an OAM for her work in Aboriginal communities and for her religious graphics.  Susan’s mission is to work towards developing a genuine Australian religious art.  Expressing sculptural themes and images through Australian symbols.  Using techniques and products to enhance creativity. Giving courage to those who are not experienced in art.
Photo of Susan Daily
Exploring Prayer through Art.
While developing Christian Meditation practice in schools, Louise discovered many artful ways to extend students contemplative prayer through journaling.  Combining art skills and techniques with prayer formation is an exciting element that deepens personal prayer experiences.  Explore practical ways in which art techniques are able to enhance Christian Meditation and extend prayer through a creative experience and contemplative approach, particularly Prayer Journals.  Everybody is an artist in this workshop.  Participants will learn some art techniques that can be explored with staff and classroom students.  Some techniques to be explored such as using watercolours, coloured inks and pens will be inspired by Gospel phrases.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Louise Harris (CEM)
Louise Harris is a Learning Consultant Religious Education in the Eastern Region for Catholic Education Melbourne.  Louise has worked in many Catholic schools across the Archdiocese of Melbourne in the capacity of classroom teacher and Religious Education Leader.  Collectively, she has over 30 years’ experience working within Catholic education. Louise is passionate about how art can enable students to express their thoughts and understanding through creative media.
Photo of Louise Harris
Meditation and the Catholic School.
This workshop will focus on the meaning and practice of meditation in the Catholic school context.  Meditation has been shown to make connections with students, enhance wellbeing and promote Catholic Identity.  The question of how meditation can engage with the religious and spiritual dimension will be addressed in light of its varied applications in society today.  The workshop will also provide a background and practice of meditation within the Christian tradition, and offer resources and practices for its integration into the school and classroom.  Meditation is a simple practice offering interior freedom and opening new horizons for Christian faith and action in the world.  There are a growing number of schools implementing the practice of meditation into their programs.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Christopher Morris (CTC)
Chris is Head of Department - Pastoral and General Studies at the Catholic Theological College Melbourne and lectures in Spirituality and Meditation.  He is currently completing a PhD in the Christian wisdom tradition.  Before coming to the CTC he worked in Religious Education in Catholic Schools and Catholic Education Melbourne. 
Photo of Christopher Morris
Music for Prayer & Devotion.
A practical and empowering workshop to lift your heart and inspire God’s prayer in you, and in the people you serve.  This workshop seeks to explore principles around the process of choosing music for prayer services, retreats, and personal prayer and devotion, as well as allowing participants the opportunity to sing and listen to road-tested repertoire.  There will be new ideas and inspiration appropriate for secondary schools and the Australian context.  The workshop looks at how to work with young people and staff to mentor, empower, and educate them as Music Ministers in the Catholic tradition.  It explains how to meet young people where they are in the world they live in, while also opening the riches of their wider faith tradition. The workshop includes music that has enriched prayer services and retreats at Marcellin College, Melbourne where Fiona was Director of Music, and at Boston College where Fiona was the first Graduate Assistant for Liturgical Music at the School of Theology and Ministry.  The workshop will also offer simple take-away instructions on how to source resources, how to deal with copyright considerations, and how to create contemplative prayer through music.  It will also explore upbeat music for joyful musical prayer that stays true to Catholic identity.  Fiona will be assisted by Mr Geoffrey Urquhart, keyboard accompanist for Marcellin College and Director of Music at Wesley Church in Melbourne and Patrick Shannon, former Music Captain at Marcellin and now 2nd year music student (violin major) at Monash University.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Fiona Dyball
Fiona M. Dyball is a music and liturgy specialist, working in Catholic secondary schools for over 20 years. She works extensively in adult and youth faith formation, and Music Ministry.  She is a member of the Marist National Formation Team (Melbourne) and the Australian National Liturgical Board for the ACBC. Fiona has tertiary qualifications from Australia and the US in music performance and choral conducting, music therapy, secondary education, religious education, liturgy, and theology.  She is the only Australian to be invited to teach by David Haas at his yearly institute for young liturgical musicians in the US.  Fiona regularly sings and presents across Australia and has also sung at the LA Religious Education Congress.
Photo of Fiona Dyball
Nurturing a Relevant and Empowering Spirituality.
The task of any useful and legitimate spirituality is to bring our deepest desires and our lived experience closer together.  So, in this workshop we will explore:
• The nature of spirituality;
• The ways in which spirituality has the power to transform our lived experience of our day-to-day lives, teaching us to live joyfully;
• The particular relevance of spirituality for Catholic educators;
• “Finding God in all things” – the ways that Ignatian spirituality frameworks can assist in in discerning and interpreting our own individual life journey, and the journeys of those whom we companion.
‘Spirituality’, is a word we seem to hear all the time in religious circles. But what is it exactly? Or, specifically, what might a Catholic spirituality look like?  Hildegard of Bingen said that the greatest problem in life, “lies in trying to integrate everything, to invest all with meaning, see it all as part of a larger, more meaningful life”.  This really is the goal of spirituality; to “invest all with meaning”, and thereby find joy in living.  But we know this is easier said than done.  Living in a world of day-to-day stresses, injustices and conflicts, it may seem like a pipe dream to be able to find meaning and deep inner peace.  But the search for wholeness is a profound human yearning, embedded in our DNA by God.  So everyone longs to feel worthy, to be accepted and loved; to feel a sense of inner harmony and flourishing; we long to feel like we are fully functioning and in good spirits.  Most of all, we desire to be at one with God, and thereby feel at one with the entire universe as well as feel a deep sense of solidarity with our fellow human beings throughout the world.  (Recommended for primary & secondary)
Dr Michael Loughnane (Jesuit College of Spirituality)
Michael has worked as a senior teacher as well as holding significant leadership positions in Catholic schools in Melbourne for the past 30 years.  He completed his PhD in practical theology in 2008 and his thesis had as its focus an analysis of the constituent elements of a liberating Catholic education. Michael took up his new role as Academic Dean at the Jesuit College of Spirituality in January of this year.  In this role he sees first hand, the transformative potential of Ignatian spirituality, and is eager to explore and share the many ways in which the experience and study of spirituality can foster a deep sense of meaning, purpose and wholeness leading to authentic human liberation.
Photo of Dr Michael Loughnane

Learning - Learning as an encounter is a dialogical, relational and optimistic pedagogy, one that opens up horizons of hope for the future for the individual learner, their school, the Church and the wider community.

Presentation / Workshop Title & Synopsis Presenter Presenter Photo
Turning ECSI Findings into Strong Catholic School Outcomes.
When Pope Francis addressed a gathering of leaders who were meeting to plan future directions for the Church, he observed that we are not living in an era of change, we are living through a change of eras.  In this challenging moment in history, Francis calls us to be like the ‘great explorers who on ships were passionate about navigating the open sea and were not frightened by frontiers and storms’.  As someone who goes out walking in the bush most weekends I know how important it is to have a good map and instruments that tell you where you are now and what is your current bearing of travel.  The findings from the Enhancing Catholic School Identity (ECSI) research reported in Identity in Dialogue give Catholic schools important compass bearings for the way forward.  The Pope points out however that the our hope lies not in doctrine and logic alone but in building our capacity for dialogue and encounter and by reaching out to those in our midst who are most on the edges.  In this workshop we will identify practice that is emerging in our schools which is responsive to the ECSI research and which rises to the challenges articulated so well by Pope Francis.  Our way forward lies in carefully discerning the seeds of hope that are germinating today in our practice as Catholic educators.  (Recommended for primary & secondary)
Video Recording:
Dr Paul Sharkey (CEM)
Dr Paul Sharkey is the Director, Leadership and Catholic Identity at Catholic Education Melbourne.  He was previously State Director of Catholic Education in South Australia.  His PhD was a case study of teacher responses to a religious ethos program in a Catholic school.  Paul has also completed postgraduate programs in theology, education, program evaluation and educational leadership and management.  Paul is interested in exploring issues of identity and culture in Catholic Education as they have a profound significance for our sector at this time.
Photo of Dr Paul Sharkey
Partnering to Learn - Primary Schools.
For the past 18 months a large proportion of the time of Learning Consultants Religious Education has involved working with schools in collectives.  This model of collaboration has presented lots of opportunities for schools to dialogue in small groups to build the capacity of teachers to introduce and embed the Renewed Religious Education Framework.  Together with schools who have engaged in the partnerships to learn we will present an account of how this work offers schools a different way of connecting and sharing the learning to build staff capacity and improve student outcomes.  (Recommended for primary)     
Rose Costa & Yvan Fredric
(facilitated by Margaret Waldeck & Lisa Heffernan)
Photo of Rose Costa
The Religious Education Teacher as Expert:  Using Teacher Knowledge and Student-Centred Discourse to Engage Students.
A case study methodology was utilised to identify factors that engaged year five/six students in the RE curriculum, Coming to Know, Worship and Love (CEO, 2008).  The teacher’s knowledge was found to be one of the key factors that facilitated the cognitive engagement of students.  Cognitive engagement may be described as “deliberate task-specific thinking” (Helme & Clarke, 2001, p. 136).  Teachers used content knowledge to enhance students’ understanding of a Biblical text and subsequent involvement in a Scripture Think Pad.  They achieved this by interacting with small groups of students through open-ended questions and scaffolding conversations.  Open-ended questions have more than one possible answer and often require high-order thinking (Sadker, Zittleman, & Sadker, 2011).  Scaffolding conversations are those between the teacher and student/s that respond to their conceptual understanding and thinking (Ferguson, 2012).  Teachers used content knowledge and these processes to encourage student-centred discourse, increase understanding and enhance cognitive engagement.  The first half of this workshop will outline how teacher knowledge (content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge) was utilised to engage students.  The second half will actively involve participants in strategies to enhance student-centred discourse and engagement in the RE classroom.  (Recommended for primary & secondary)
Dr Adrian Lacey (CEM)
Adrian has worked for 30 years as a teacher, Religious Education Leader and Deputy Principal in Primary schools in the South-east of Melbourne.  In 2016 he completed a Doctorate entitled; ‘Key Factors that Engaged Year 5/6 Students in an RE Curriculum’.  Earlier this year Adrian commenced working with Catholic Education Melbourne as an Education Officer – Religious Education Learning and Teaching.
Photo of Dr Adrian Lacey
Spreading Joy Through Art.
How do we teach our students about joy, gratitude, a sense of themselves?  By teaching children mindfulness skills we can help them increase their wellbeing.  By teaching children to be resilient and aware of being present in the world we can teach them about compassion, empathy and being accepting of themselves and others.  Tania will lead the workshop participants in discussing simple techniques which can be introduced into the class room and Religious Education classes.  Discussions will be supported by art / craft making activities. Outcomes which can easily be shared with primary and secondary students.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Tania Di Berardino (Zart Art)
Tania Di Berardino has a Bachelor of Fine Art and is a practising Artist; she has worked with ZART ART for over twelve years as a consultant and workshop facilitator. Tania has conducted workshops in the areas of early years, play based learning, art, textiles, illustration and mindfulness; with primary, secondary and early year’s teachers as well as students and fellow artists. Tania’s focus when running workshops is to encourage participants to explore and discover, things about art, materials and more importantly about themselves.
Photo of Tania Di Berardino
Walk around Fitzroy highlighting Catholic Facilities available within 1km radius.
East Melbourne contains many significant sites that are deeply connected to the history of our Catholic community in Melbourne.  This workshop will focus on the rich learning opportunities that can be found in and around this region, incorporating a visit to the Dr Sr Mary Glowrey Museum.  This museum captures the story and the legacy of Dr S Mary Glowery, whose work in responding to the medical needs of the poor has been recognised through the preliminary phase of the cause for her canonisation.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Shaun Healy (CEM)
Shaun works as a Learning Consultant for Religious Education with our secondary schools in the southern and eastern regions.  He is passionate about empowering teachers to design rich, authentic learning experiences in Religious Education.
Photo of Shaun Healy

Celebrating  - Celebrations of liturgy and sacraments are part of the formal, public prayer and worship of the Church.

Presentation / Workshop Title & Synopsis Presenter Presenter Photo
Capturing the Catholic Imagination through the Sacraments of Initiation: Invitation, Encounter, Accompaniment.
Tangible and yet beyond sight, the sacraments of initiation call and potentially empower each individual to make a personal response and commitment to the mission of the Church throughout their life.  The sensory nature of the elements used, pouring of water during Baptism, anointing with oil in Confirmation, highlight the symbolic meaning and confirm the accompanying words and actions of the priest during each Rite.  Vatican II called for a greater inclusion of the faithful in all aspects of the liturgical practice including sacraments in order to facilitate ‘fully conscious and active participation’ and an increased focus on the importance of building up of the faith community. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Ch1: II ,14   The sacraments of initiation celebrated regularly at the grass roots of parish life provide a key opportunity for welcome, hospitality, encounter and accompaniment as the newly initiated and their families mark key moments in their journey of faith.   This workshop will showcase practical ways to engage and explore the mystery and richness of the signs, symbols, words and actions used in the sacraments.  The material presented will assist RE staff, teachers seeking accreditation, class teachers and parish educators preparing children for the sacraments and those working with parents or senior students.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Mary Ryan (Archbishop's Office for Evangelisation)
Mary Ryan is the Co-ordinator of Adult Faith Formation/Parish Liaison at the Archbishop’s Office for Evangelisation, a missionary agency of the Melbourne Archdiocese.  Her diverse role includes resource development, liturgical workshop presentation and direct parish engagement.  Prior to this Mary worked as Parish Religious Education Leader and classroom teacher.  Mary’s energy for sharing her faith led her to complete post graduate studies in Religious Education at ACU and a Master of Arts: Theology at YTU.  She is passionate about providing practical ideas and strategies that help to explore, nurture and promote the Good News with children, family, schools, parish communities and beyond.
Photo of Mary Ryan
Celebrating Masses with Young Children - Top 10 Hints.
This session will investigate Church teaching on how to celebrate Masses with children well, highlighting some key principles for preparing engaging liturgical celebrations that enable and foster the full, conscious and active participation of children.  The session will consider when it is appropriate to use the Directory for Masses with Children; how good liturgical celebrations form children’s faith; how school communities enact their Church identity when celebrating liturgy and why this requires the adoption of a different mindset from other school activities.  Ideas for facilitating best practice in celebrating liturgy with children will be explored.  Celebrating Masses with children is a joyous and at times challenging part of school and parish life.  Experiencing God in spirited ritual celebrations is a crucial part of Catholic faith formation for young children.  (Recommended for primary & parish)
Professor Clare Johnson (ACU)
Clare V. Johnson is Director of the ACU Centre for Liturgy and Professor of Liturgical Studies and Sacramental Theology at Australian Catholic University.  Clare has taught liturgy, sacramental theology, preaching, liturgical music and systematic theology at University of Notre Dame (USA), Michigan State University (USA), University of Notre Dame Australia (Fremantle) and Australian Catholic University.  Her peer-reviewed research has been widely published and she has received various awards for tertiary teaching excellence.  She holds a mandatum to teach Catholic theological disciplines.  Clare is Chair of the National Liturgical Music Board and is a member of the National Liturgical Council.
Photo of Clare Johnson
Liturgical Music for Masses - Singing Our Catholic Identity.
A practical, positive, and engaging workshop to lift your heart and inspire God’s prayer in you, and in your students.  This workshop seeks to explore principles around the process of choosing liturgical music for Masses with young people to mentor, empower, and educate them as Music Ministers.  It explains how and why to differentiate between liturgical music for Masses and music for retreats, personal prayer and devotion, as well as the possible crossover points.  The workshop includes singing through music that has enriched Masses and Liturgy at Marcellin College, Melbourne where Fiona was Director of Music, and at Boston College where Fiona was the first Graduate Assistant for Liturgical Music at the School of Theology and Ministry.  The workshop will also offer simple take-away instructions on how to source resources, how to deal with copyright considerations, how to create buy-in from colleagues, and how to craft reverent but inclusive liturgy through music.  She will be assisted by Mr Geoffrey Urquhart, keyboard accompanist for Marcellin College and Director of Music at Wesley Church in Melbourne and Patrick Shannon, former Music Captain at Marcellin and now 2nd year music student (violin major) at Monash University.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Fiona Dyball
Fiona M. Dyball is a music and liturgy specialist, working in Catholic secondary schools for over 20 years. She works extensively in adult and youth faith formation, and Music Ministry.  She is a member of the Marist National Formation Team (Melbourne) and the Australian National Liturgical Board for the ACBC. Fiona has tertiary qualifications from Australia and the US in music performance and choral conducting, music therapy, secondary education, religious education, liturgy, and theology.  She is the only Australian to be invited to teach by David Haas at his yearly institute for young liturgical musicians in the US.  Fiona regularly sings and presents across Australia and has also sung at the LA Religious Education Congress.
Photo of Fiona Dyball
Using Liturgy Help to Prepare Liturgy.
LiturgyHelp is the key liturgy resource provided by Catholic Education Melbourne through the CEVN Portal. This workshop will provide an overview of the content and practical suggestions on how the resources can be used to simplify liturgical planning and bring the Church’s liturgical year into the life of schools.  The LiturgyHelp system provides teachers with integrated access to the liturgical calendar, Lectionary, Missal and a wealth of planning resources.  Additional features being developed for the new version of LiturgyHelp will also be demonstrated.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Patrick Nisbet (Creative Ministry Resources)
Patrick is the founder and CEO of Creative Ministry Resources Pty Ltd which publishes online Catholic parish and school resources including LiturgyHelp and Religious Literacy Assessment.  Patrick holds a Bachelor of Theology and has worked in diocesan youth ministry and education in several dioceses across Australia.  Patrick enjoys developing web technology to advance the Catholic life of parishes and schools.  His particular interest is the way that ICT can be used in church and education.
Photo of Patrick Nibset
Plenary Session - Sharing of Life Story Through Music & Conversation.
Josh Angrisano is a Youth Minister and Catholic Hip Hop Artist from Dallas, Texas.  Josh first came to Australia for ministry work in 2016 when he did a full year of voluntary mission work with Youth Mission Team Australia.  Since then Josh has performed his music and shared his story at various Youth events back in America and here in Australia, like ACYF.  He uses the vehicle of Hip Hop to share his testimony, preach the Gospel, and share the Love of God to listeners, all the while keeping it in a fun and relatable format to the culture of today.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Josh Angrisano
Photo of Josh Angrisano

Belonging - Belonging in a Catholic school community anchors the individual and collective identity in God through the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Presentation / Workshop Title & Synopsis Presenter Presenter Photo
Identity & Growth - A Perspective for Catholic Schools.
In May 2018, Catholic Education Melbourne released the resource package Identity and Growth: A Perspective for Catholic Schools.  The resource provides schools with guidance and support for creating nurturing and inclusive environments for all students as they grow towards maturity.  The areas of sexuality, gender identity, human growth and relationships are a particular focus.  This workshop aims to deepen participants understanding of the rationale, context and practical application of the Identity and Growth resource in Catholic school communities.  Through a range of interactive activities, participants will explore traditional church teachings through the Identity and Growth Catholic Foundation Statement and how these intersect with contemporary approaches to education in human sexuality in Catholic schools.  (Recommended for primary and secondary)  
Lisa Hughes & Dr Lina Di Paolo (CEM)
Lisa Hughes works for Catholic Education Melbourne as Formation Officer – Catholic Identity.  She is one of the founding members of the working party that has developed the resource Identity and Growth:  A Perspective for Catholic Schools.  Prior to coming to CEM where she works with senior leaders in the area of faith formation and religious leadership, Lisa had been working with children and families in Catholic education and the community for the past twenty five years; particularly in the area of human sexuality.  Lisa is a healthcare professional with qualifications in nursing, midwifery and health promotion.
In her role as Team Leader, Student Wellbeing Unit at Catholic Education Melbourne, Dr Lina Di Paolo draws on broad teaching and leadership experience in Catholic and public sector education to contribute to the design, delivery and implementation of wellbeing policies, reforms and system strategies.  Lina is a member of a range of cross-sectoral Commonwealth and State government reference groups associated with student wellbeing, engagement and health.  As a member of the Working Party that developed the Identity and Growth:  A Perspective for Catholic Schools resources, Lina drew on the experiences of schools navigating the sensitive and complex space of sexuality, gender identity, human growth and relationships to inform the work.
Photo of Lisa HughesPhoto of Lina-DiPaolo
Past, Present & Future Dreaming.
The Aboriginal Catholic Ministry has been operating for 26 years and works closely with schools, parishes and community organisations in cross cultural education.  There are a number of programs running from the Ministry including the Opening the Doors Foundation supporting Indigenous students in independent schools throughout Victoria and the FIRE Carriers Program which connects the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry with Catholic schools from around the state.  These and other questions will be discussed through the duration of workshop;
• Who are the people from the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria?
• What do we do at the Aboriginal Ministry?
• How do Aboriginal people become Catholics?
• How does the Aboriginal story correlate with the Catholic story?
(Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Sherri Balcombe (Aboriginal Catholic Ministry)
Sherry Balcombe has worked at the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry for 14 years and has been the Co-ordinator for the past 3 years.  Sherry is an Olkola / Ku Ku Yalanji woman from Far North Queensland and has a passion for what she does and enjoys supporting her local community on a state and national level.  Sherry’s dream is to assist Aboriginal children in attaining a good education, so that in the future they can be great advocates for all Aboriginal people.  Sherry also has a passion for our troubled youth and regularly visits children in the Parkville Detention Centre on behalf of the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People.  She is also on a Volunteers Advisory Committee to the Minister for Family & Children and Minister for Youth Hon. Jenny Mikakos.  Sherry prides herself on working with community, many Catholic organisations and trying to improve the lives of her community as a whole. 
Photo of Sherri Balcombe
The Air that We Breathe.
This workshop explores how Mary MacKillop lived her faith. Using the example of Mary MacKillop it aims to remind us of our calling as Catholics and the many nuanced, as well as major ways we can live our faith.  When Pope Francis challenged young people at the World Youth Day Vigil in 2016 to be brave, to go out into the world and act, and to live a life of mercy.  He could have added; in the same way as Saint Mary MacKillop, as Mary MacKillop’s life reflected these words.  Mary MacKillop was only a young woman of twenty-four years when she co-founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart with Father Julian Tenison Woods.  It took courage.  These Sisters were different.  Her own family questioned why she simply didn’t join an existing Order, an Adelaide man declared if his sister joined the Josephites he’d have her locked up under the Vagrancy Act, her own bishop of Adelaide, Bishop Sheil, excommunicated her.  Mary and the Sisters navigated their way through all the criticism and condemnation and for over 150 years they have reflected Jesus’ teachings and educated and cared for thousands of children and families in need. Mary MacKillop was a woman of action, responding to needs of her time, but her faith was more than action, it was ‘like the air that [she] breathe[d]’.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Anmaree Iaccarino (Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre)
An Arts Degree (Hons) and Master Degree in Public History prepared me for my 30 year plus career as a Secondary Teacher in our Catholic Schools.  My teaching experience focused on both the Humanities and Religious Education.  Over the past 7 years I have been working in the Education Unit at the Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre sharing the story of our first saint, Mary MacKillop, with primary and secondary students and staff groups.  
Photo of Anmaree Iaccarino
Building Stronger Relationships Between Secondary Schools, Parishes and the Broader Church to Facilitate a Lifelong Faith in your Students.
For students to continue to identify as Catholic and have a Catholic faith after they leave school, they need to know they belong to a bigger Church than just their school faith community.  Building this sense of belonging to a broader faith community can be challenging for secondary schools.  This workshop will highlight why this is an important task for all secondary schools to consider, touching on the relevance of building links at a local parish level as well as providing connections to the national and international Church.  It will also consider ideas and models for schools to consider by providing specific examples and inspiration from schools that are doing this well.  (Recommended for secondary & parish)
Jessica Mills (Archdiocesan Office for Youth)
Jess joined the Archdiocesan Office for Youth as the Director in 2014 after serving as the Youth Ministry Coordinator in the Sale diocese.  Jess has extensive experience in youth ministry and has played major roles in the Australian Catholic Youth Festival as well as leading and coordinating several groups on World Youth Day pilgrimages across the world.  She completed her Grad Dip Secondary Edu / Grad Cert RE in 2015 and has served on several boards that aim to increase faith in Secondary School students, both locally and nationally.
Photo of Jessica Mills
Our Role as Creatures Within God's Creation.
An interactive workshop which explores our participation in creation with God, as God’s creatures.  Re-discover the teaching expressed by the Catholic tradition, from Genesis, St Francis of Assisi, to the encyclical Laudato Si’.  Ask, what does it mean to care for creation?  Evaluate how we connect with creation, what are our practices and plan for success in making short and long term changes in schools.  Laudato Si’ states, environmental education seeks “to restore the various levels of ecological equilibrium, establishing harmony within ourselves, with others, with nature and other living creatures and with God (LS n.210).”  What does this mean for our schools, for learning and teaching, for prayer and liturgy and how can we prepare teachers for this challenge?  (Recommended for primary & secondary)
Matthew Navaretti (CEM)
Matthew Navaretti is currently Team Leader – Catholic Identity, at Catholic Education Melbourne.  For two years he has been co-chair of the “CEM Environmentally Sustainable Development Committee” and the CECV “Cross Diocesan Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee” and served previously as a member of these committees.  As a member of the working party of the CEM committee, Matthew played a leading role in the development of “Education for Sustainability in the Archdiocese of Melbourne” which was launched in 2016.  Matthew worked in environmental education as Catholic Education placed teacher at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and CERES Community Environment Park, where he supported schools to develop sustainability in education, operations and community engagement.  At Museum Victoria he was Outreach Program Manager, coordinating travelling museum experiences across the state. Matthew worked in primary and secondary schools and taught religious education, science, biology and environmental education.
Photo of Matthew Navaretti

 Reaching Out     The Catholic school responds to a call to service, not just as a moral duty or obligation, but in a spirit of joyful loving that responds to the presence of God in each person encountered.

Presentation / Workshop Title & Synopsis Presenter Presenter Photo
Transforming Bystanders into Upstanders.
The watchwords of Courage to Care are ‘Each person can make a difference’ and to ‘Never be a bystander’.  As teachers and educators we encourage students to be participants in their communities, to understand the importance in our society of inclusion and equity and respecting the dignity of each individual.  The Courage to Care Exhibition with its associated Educational Program, will show participants the way in which the actions of those known as the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ (those who saved Jewish lives during the Holocaust) exemplified those values in those frightening and dangerous times. Using their stories as the paramount example of moral, ethical behaviour the Program underlines and emphasises the importance of those attributes in our communities today.  A Holocaust survivor will also address the delegates sharing their personal testimony as part of the workshop presentation.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Dr Tony Weldon & Les Kausman (Courage to Care)
Dr Tony Weldon is Chairman of B’nai B’rith Courage to Care (Vic.) – a volunteer-based Program, and has been for the past 12 years.  Tony is familiar with all aspects of the Program including its history, its development over the last 26 years and its delivery to students from all sectors of secondary education as Team Leader & Facilitator. Together with Les Kausman (Vice Chairman) he is passionate about the importance of the fundamental messages this unique program offers.
Mr Les Kausman is Vice Chairman of B’nai B’rith Courage to Care (Vic.) – a volunteer-based Program, for the last 3 years and key to the development of improved approaches to facilitation, the production of a new Introductory film and, currently, development of material for use in a program specifically for use with the Victorian Police.  Experienced over this time as Team Leader and facilitator and together with Tony Weldon (Chairman) he is passionate about the importance of the fundamental messages this unique program offers.
Photo of Les KausmanImage of Dr Tony Weldon
Share the Dignity - A Secular Organisation Through a Catholic Lens.
Share the Dignity is an Australian charity bringing dignity to women who are homeless, experiencing or at-risk of domestic violence; through distribution of sanitary items and funding funerals of those killed as a result of domestic violence. We believe all women matter and all women deserve dignity and justice.  It is a secular organisation which embodies the Catholic social teaching of dignity of the human person, preferential option for the poor, the common good and solidarity.  The founder Rochelle was in disbelief when she discovered that not all women have access to the basic dignity of sanitary items. Her story can be inspirational to students as she took action; instead of saying “Why is no one doing anything?” she said “What’s stopping me from doing something?” Share the Dignity now has 1500 volunteers and provides fantastic opportunities for students and schools to take action and create change in their local community.  “Each day we encounter the realities of injustice and inequity which affect our brothers and sisters at home and across the globe.  In this complex environment, we need a sure compass to guide us.  May our study of the Principles of Catholic teaching inspire us to see, to listen, to judge and to respond to others with love, justice and peace.” Denis Hart DD Archbishop of Melbourne.  This workshop will highlight how Share the Dignity a secular organisation is currently making connections with Catholic Schools and the Principles of Catholic social teaching.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Stephanie Meade (Share The Dignity)
Stephanie Meade is a passionate Primary School educator and strives to live out Catholic Social Teaching in her own life.  She volunteers for Share the Dignity a secular organisation that provides sanitary items to women in poverty.  Through Catholic social teaching she inspires her students to take action and live out Catholic values in their own lives.  She has studied her Masters of Leadership at ACU and undertaken and led social justice campaigns in the schools she has taught.
Photo of Stephanie Meade
Work to Your Strengths.
Bring Religious Education to life with authentic learning experiences that will inspire your students to want to create a fairer and more sustainable world.  Find out how Caritas Australia (CA) breaks the cycle of poverty and injustice using a strengths based approach to enable the integral human development of every community member.   Explore the moral framework or Catholic Social Teachings (CST) that underpin the work of CA.  What are CST’s?  Find out about some of CA’s development stories and how you can partner with us to end poverty, promote justice and uphold human dignity. 
How can you use this same approach with students in your school to achieve social justice outcomes? 
How can you embed social justice into your curriculum?
Use our engaging school teaching resources to inspire students to learn about poverty and justice. Please join us in this workshop to find out more about CARITAS AUSTRALIA.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Gwen Michener (Caritas)
Gwen Michener is an experienced educator who has worked in various educational settings such as primary and secondary schools, Museum Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens and more recently with Caritas Australia. Gwen is a Justice Educator who is passionate about students learning about global inequities and teachers embedding social justice as a cross curricula priority and service learning in schools.
Photo of Gwen Michener
Substance Addiction in Youth Culture Today:  Understanding the Nature of Addiction and Cultivating Resilience.
This workshop attempts to help Catholic educators have a deep understanding of 4 areas.
1. How pervasive is the problem of substance addiction in modern Australian culture, particularly youth culture?
2. Understanding the nature and problem of addictions. Are there character traits that can predispose a person to more easily becoming addicted to substances.
3. The relationship between substance addiction and the significant increase in mental health problems among the young over the last 20 years.
4. Helping our young develop greater resilience. In particular through mindfulness and purposeful living.
In addressing these issues, we will look at current research into neuropsychology, mindfulness therapy, and wellness studies and how knowledge / wisdom in these areas can greatly increase resilience in young people.  (Recommended for secondary)
Gerard Koe (Catholic Care)
Gerard currently works as a Family Counsellor specialising in Addictions, particularly Substance addictions, at Catholic Care Dandenong.  His background includes more than 12 years in Catholic Education as a De LaSalle Christian Brother in Malaysia.  He completed his undergraduate studies in Psychology at Lewis University in Illinois and later completed an MA degree in Pastoral Counselling at Loyola University of Chicago.  Gerard has worked in the field of substance addiction counselling for 17 years since migrating to Melbourne in 2001 with his family.  He was part of the pioneering team at Mary of the Cross which was the Melbourne Archdiocese’s first response to the compelling problem of substance addiction in Australia. Gerard is passionate about the integration of psychotherapy with spirituality and employs a unique psycho spiritual approach to the work of healing with his clients.
Photo of Gerard Koe
Valuing Diversity – Intercultural Understanding Workshops.
Intercultural understanding is a capability that all Australian school children are expected to achieve.  In other words, students are expected to be able to value diverse cultures found within their own school and broader communities.  The challenge that any teacher faces is how to best support students in this process.  This session will introduce you to the outstanding work of the Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia (JCMA).  Since 2007, the JCMA has facilitated engaging intercultural workshops in schools throughout Melbourne.  Today’s interactive workshop will introduce you to key pedagogical principles of intercultural education that will support your classroom practice.  It will also share practical strategies and ideas that will encourage your students along this journey starting from self-knowledge and then extending towards understanding the experiences of others.  All participants will be encouraged to share personal successes, challenges, and idea with others, so that each person can leave this workshop with an enlarged toolbox that can be implemented in your own classrooms.  (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Bryan Conyer (JCMA)
Bryan is the Education Officer of the Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia (JCMA).  He earned his PhD in Education from the University of Sydney, with a focus on understanding how pluralism influences the experience of different parts of the school community.  Bryan has worked as a senior leader in Jewish Day schools, and has been involved in various interfaith activities.  By working for the JCMA School’s Program, Bryan looks forward to contributing to an Australia that is enriched by cultural diversity and mutual respect.
Photo of Bryan Conyer
Human Trafficking - Resources for Secondary School Curriculum.
ACRATH's work opens new horizons by raising awareness through its programs, website advocacy and presentations about the causes, realities and impacts of human trafficking globally and in Australia.  Based on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, ACRATH's commitment to education, reflection, advocacy and action is making a difference and bringing about greater justice for women, men and children who are being trafficked and exploited.  (Recommended for secondary)
Christine Carolan & Claire Griffin (ACRATH)
Christine Carolan has a background in teaching and is employed as the Executive Officer of ACRATH overseeing awareness raising, advocacy and support for people who have been trafficked.
Claire Griffin has a background in teaching and pastoral work and has been a member of ACRATH for 10 years before becoming the Victorian Co-ordinator.
Photo of Christine CarolanPhoto of Claire Griffin
Vinnies - A hand up, not just a hand out.
This workshop will present an overview of the opportunities we provide for schools to get involved with Vinnies and a taste of the exciting history and charism of the St Vincent de Paul Society.  The St Vincent de Paul Society’s Youth and Education Development team provides opportunities for schools and young people to put their faith into action and develop their leadership potential.  Vinnies is imbued with the youthful spirit of our founder Frederic Ozanam, who was just 20 years old when he saw an opportunity to make a difference in 19th Century Paris.  Ozanam said “Charity is the Samaritan who pours oil on the wounds of the traveller who has been attacked.  But, it is justice’s role to prevent the attacks.” Using the ‘See Think Do’ framework, our team challenges young people to consider how they can give a “hand up, not just a hand out”.  We promote the importance of subsidiarity and valuing the dignity of all people.   (Recommended for primary, secondary & parish)
Cheyne Pettit & Felicity Walter (St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria)
Cheyne Pettit works with schools and young people in the Vinnies Youth and Education team.  He trained as a teacher and is passionate about creating opportunities for young people to put their faith into action.
Felicity Walter works with schools and young people in the Vinnies Youth and Education team.  She trained as a teacher and is passionate about creating opportunities for young people to put their faith into action.
Photo of Cheyne PettitPhoto of Felicity Walter


Merryn Hughes, along with Vas Clementine from Catholic Education Melbourne, led in song for prayer at the conference. Merryn is currently studying Arts and Music at the University of Melbourne. She loves singing and is the cantor at her local parish, St Francis Xavier, Box Hill, where she leads the congregation in song most weekends. Merryn is no stranger to Catholic Education Melbourne, having been cantor at the St Patrick’s Day Mass for Schools in 2016 and 2017.

Image of Vas and Merryn


Conference Mass

The Conference Mass was celebrated by the Vicar General of Melbourne Monsignor Greg Bennet and concelebrated by Reverend John O’Reilly and Reverend Wayne Edwards on Thursday 19 July at St John the Evangelist Church.

image of Monsignor Greg Bennet and school choir - Mass Image 1

We were indeed blessed to have the students from Mercy College, Coburg, and St Peter’s School, Keilor East along with their Choir Directors Michelle Walker Elizabeth Kietner to lead us in song. The students and teachers were supported by Nelson Graham and Vas Clementine from Catholic Education Melbourne.

images of school choirs - Mass Image 2images of school choirs - Mass Image 3


Mass Choir

The choir is led by Michelle Walker, Mercy College, Coburg, and Elizabeth Kietner, St Peter’s School, Keilor East. We are blessed to have students and teachers from these schools along with Nelson Graham and Vas Clementine, from Catholic Education Melbourne to lead us in song for the Conference Mass on Thursday evening.

Conference Dinner

The Conference Dinner followed Mass, beginning with pre-dinner drinks at 5.45 pm in the CLC dining room. Sharing table fellowship and entertainment from Louis Reed a wonderful evening was had by all.
RE conference 2018 dinner photos

Entertainment at Conference Dinner
Louis Reed
Louis Reed

Louis Reed is a past student of St Ignatius College Geelong, Drysdale. He is a performer, writer and instrumentalist. In 2017 Louis Reed graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Music Theatre), which included extensive practical training in music theatre’s three principal disciplines: singing, acting and dancing. Louis has been involved in such productions as Oh, What a Lovely War, Mate!, as the MC; Company, as David; and Morning Melodies: Best of Broadway as an ensemble member. He also played the role of one of the Tall Brothers in the VCA performance of The Drowsy Chaperone.

Plenary - Josh Angrisano: Sharing of Life through Music and Conversation

‘A great way to conclude the conference! Our students are talented Hip Hop artists and this experience would be amazing for our school’ Marina Berardi, REL, Sacred Heart Primary School, Fitzroy.

“Josh is a very animated and talented person. I wish him all the best in his ministry.’ Cristina Elicano, REL, St Francis de Sales Catholic Primary School, Lynbrook.

Image of Josh Angrisano - plenary


Thank you to all our exhibitors for attending over the two days and adding another dimension to the conference.

  1. Jesuit Communications
  2. Catholic Care
  3. Pauline Books & Media
  4. Garratt Publishing
  5. Archbishop’s Office for Evangelisation
  6. Caritas Australia
  7. Archdiocesan Office for Youth
  9. Aboriginal Catholic Ministry of Victoria
  10. Catholic Super
  11. Understanding Faith
  12. Jambaroo Abbey
  13. Sr Susan Daily IBVM OAM
  14. James Goold House Publications
  15. Catholic Missions
  16. Archbishops Office for Justice and Peace
  17. Australian Catholic University
  18. Courage to Care
  19. Freedom Publishing Books

Conference Door Prize Primary/Secondary

The Primary Door Prize was won by Karen Robertson, St Catherine’s School, Lalor.

The Secondary Door Prize was won by Cathryn Doman, Kolbe College, Craigieburn.
R.E conference graphic

The Artist

Nina Hughes is a Year 11 student at Our Lady of Sion College, Box Hill, currently studying Visual Communication Design, units 3 & 4. Nina’s creativity has found expression throughout her time at school through art, music, drama and more recently visual communication design, where she is making a name for herself with her bold, detailed and vibrant designs.

The Design Brief

The purpose was to depict the conference theme, ‘Open New Horizons for Spreading Joy’, in a vibrant, youthful graphic that would easily translate across several media. Nina found inspiration from imagery of horizons, mosaics and stained-glass windows. She then generated ideas which embodied themes of faith, joy and openness through her imagery, design and use of colour.

The Design Process

The initial design captured the hearts and imagination of the Conference committee members but was deemed too complex for the intended context as it would be unsuitable to transfer across all media and it would lose clarity with size adjustments. Refinements were made to simplify the design while maintaining its crucial elements.

Images of the development process of the RE Conference logo

The final design intends to generally reflect a horizon over an ocean, but as the viewer looks at the graphic longer they can see the body of Jesus, with arms outstretched in an open embrace. This may represent how Jesus supports all aspects of our lives; that brings joy.
Nina Hughes


All keynote, master class and workshop presenters were presented with a copy of Our Mob, God’s Story: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists Share Their Faith (Louise Sherman and Christobel Mattingley, Bible Society), winner of the 2017 Australian Christian Book of the Year.

The Indigenous art book ‘celebrates the impact of the Bible on Australia’s First Nations People’ and features over 115 paintings by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. The Award judges described Our Mob, God’s Story as ‘beautiful, confident and irresistible’. Sixty-six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from the city and the bush tell the story of the wonderful things God has done for their people.

Caring for Creation

Catholic Education Melbourne is working to respond to Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’s encyclical On Care for our Common Home. In this regard the 2018 Religious Education Conference continues to model environmentally friendly and sustainable practices.

We have sought to make this Religious Education Conference a practical and visible witness to our role in God’s creation. Therefore, we will be providing the program and resources through an online platform for delegates to access on smart devices. Wherever possible, we have sought out suppliers whose practices align with these principles and we have tried to consider the social and environmental impact of all aspects of this conference.

Pope Francis, in his encyclical Laudato Si’ reminds us that as Christians we are called by God to be custodians of this planet and to treat it with respect, as it is created by God. The Pope teaches us that ‘Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience’ (n. 217).

Catholic Social Teaching leads the call for a sustainable and just future with its emphasis on the dignity of the human person, solidarity, the common good, the preferential option for the poor and our responsibility to be stewards of creation.

The conference committee has taken inspiration from Pope Francis, who guides us saying, ‘There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle …’ We outline below our approach to demonstrating our commitment to environmental sustainability.


Drink stations are available throughout the venue. In addition, we recommend you bring your water bottle. No bottled water will be supplied at the conference. Bottled water can have a significant impact on people and the environment and Melbourne's water quality is very good. To explore more please watch The Story of Bottled Water.  

Coffee & Tea

The fair trade organic coffee and fair trade tea at the conference are supplied by Beraldo. No disposable cups will be used as currently these are not recycled in Melbourne. Cups will be washed and re-used. Visit the webpage to learn about Fair Trade.

Beraldo Coffee Picture


To protect forests, this conference is as paperless as possible. This includes minimal flyers, an online booking system and a conference webpage instead of a printed program/agenda. We are encouraging delegates to use devices or recycled paper for note-taking. Paper used by Catholic Education Melbourne and the Catholic Leadership Centre is from responsible sources and is recycled after use.


We are avoiding plastics where possible, such as providing 100% cotton, reusable conference bags, rather than a plastic carry bag. Entry passes are printed on thick card, without the need for covering in plastic cases.


Studios have 60 litre co-mingled recycling and landfill waste bins which are emptied into appropriate waste management streams. Please do not place coffee cups in recycling bins as they are not recyclable in Melbourne. The bins are purchased from a local company, Eco bins. They are made from post-consumer recycled material, are fully recyclable at the end of their life, use 50% less electricity and water and have very little waste during the production process.

Food waste

Food waste and recyclable materials are separated in the CLC kitchen. Recyclables are sent for appropriate recycling and food waste, where possible due to government food safety regulations, is sent to OzHarvest and Co-Health in Collingwood.

Catholic Leadership Centre

The Catholic Leadership Centre (CLC) has been designed on principles of sustainability, which include features such as north-facing windows, sliding doors for ventilation, the incorporation of existing school buildings into the function centre, and gardens featuring plants with low water requirements.