RE Conference 2018

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The RE Conference 2018 has begun!

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.

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 is 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.


A choice of workshops are held each morning and afternoon. Visit our online agenda for details and to book into one morning and afternoon session per day. Workshop sizes vary and are capped. If a workshop is full, the system will inform and allow you to make an alternative selection.


For any queries, please contact Leeanne Hounsell at Catholic Education Melbourne on (03) 9267 0228 or email

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Conference - on the day details

Registration Desk

The Registration Desk is located inside the main dining room and will be attended from 8.00 am to 10.00 am both days of the conference.

Delegate Passport

All registered conference participants will be issued with a delegate passport upon registration. This pass will include your name, school, parish or organisation and your selection of workshops/masterclasses and their corresponding location.

Do you hear the bell?

The CLC bell will be rung in between sessions to encourage delegates to make their way promptly to the next session. So if you hear the bell, it’s time to move on!

Floorplan of the Leadership Centre

Floor Plan of C.L.C


Merryn Hughes, along with Vas Clementine from Catholic Education Melbourne, will lead us 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 will be celebrated by Monsignor Greg Bennet on Thursday 19 July at St John the Evangelist Church. Please make your way to the church at 4.30 pm for Mass commencing at 5.00 pm.

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 will follow Mass, beginning with pre-dinner drinks at 5.45 pm in the CLC dining room.

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.


Thank you to all exhibitors for attending the two days and adding another dimension to the conference. Exhibitors can be found in Simonds Hall and the Pre-Function Space outside Celtic Hall. We invite you to visit and show your support during morning tea and lunch breaks on Thursday and Friday and prior to Mass on Thursday.

  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

A door prize will be presented to one primary and one secondary school at the conclusion of the conference. You will find the ticket in your delegate bag. Please ensure you fill out the ticket and place it in the corresponding box at either the registration desk or CLC reception.You must be present to win.

Environmental Prize

Did you travel by public transport or bike or on foot? If so, you are invited to fill out a ticket at registration to have a chance to win the conference environmental prize.

Prayer Spaces

On the first day of the conference, delegates in Studios 6 and 7 will be creating Prayer Spaces with Rev. Susan Crothers-Robinson. We invite you all to come and visit these beautiful spaces and be inspired.

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 for the R.E 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, masterclass and workshop presenters will receive 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.


Evaluations will be carried out by delegates after the conference. An email will be sent directly to each delegate requesting evaluations for individual workshops, keynote presentations and masterclasses.

Armchair Reflections with Angela Markas

Angela Markas


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

Social Media

Look out for social media opportunities at the conference (Twitter to be released on the days).

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.

Image of Beraldo Coffee


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.

Sustainable Travel

To promote the reduction of carbon emissions we encourage all delegates, where possible, to use public transport to travel to and from the conference. Delegates can get to the conference via tram, train or bus including:

  • Tram 12 (Victoria Gardens – St Kilda) and tram 109 (Box Hill – Port Melbourne) – stop 18. These trams can be accessed from Southern Cross or Parliament station.
  • Train to North Richmond Station on the South Morang line or Hurstbridge line.
  • Bus routes 246, 302, 303, 305, 309, 313, 315, 318, 340, 905, 906, 907, 908. For route information see the Catholic Leadership Centre web page or the Public Transport Victoria website.

Did you travel by public transport, walking or bike? If so, you are invited to fill out a ticket at registration for a chance to win the conference environmental prize.