Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell (2005), admits, "the teaching of religion has become more difficult through the past decades," (p. 4). Because of the various impediments and challenges to maintaining a religious foundation, educators and administrators are working extra hard to deliver a quality curriculum that infuses the young mind with spirituality and devotion to God. The goals of a religious education are clearly outlined by the Archdiocese of Sydney in its curriculum guide. Goals include an enhanced understanding of scripture, the cultivation of faith, and the development of habits such as prayer that foster a religious lifestyle and attitude. The Diocese of Paramatta echoes these same goals. On its website, the Diocese of Paramata ("Religious Education," n.d.) states the definition of religious education as, "more than formal instruction; it is a conscious pathway to the development of the whole person as a model of Christ and permeates all facets of life in a Catholic community." With this definition as the foundation of Catholic education, it is possible to develop a mission, vision, and practical curriculum for the Christ the King, North Rocks School. Moreover, religious education at Christ the King, North Rocks will be framed in alignment with local diocesan policy as well as with the Vatican.
The content of the religious education program at Christ the King, North Rocks is developed within the framework of the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Diocese of Paramatta. In its curriculum guide, the Archdiocese of Sydney uses the story of Emmaus to provide a "dynamic process" of religious education (Archdiocese of Sydney, 2005). This process reflects the four "movements" represented by the Emmaus story: making sense, gaining access, responding, and celebrating (Archdiocese of Sydney, 2005). Each of these four movements or components of religious education feeds on and reflects the next, so that religious education becomes an ongoing process of discovery. The student learns to make sense of everyday life within the worldview and framework of Catholic teachings via access to scripture and a core canon of religious texts. Religious education is not merely a scholastic endeavor, though. It seeks to celebrate the mystery of Christ, and to encourage direct action. Responding to God via action is an integral part of religious education at Christ the King, North Rocks.
Religious education at all Catholic schools supplements the general education curriculum required by government schools (Diocese of Paramatta, "General Curriculum," n.d.). However, religious education extends far beyond the standard educational curriculum. The actual content of religious education includes elements such as the liturgical year, the story of creation, and learning about the nature of self and relationships with others. Lessons on the liturgical year are those that refer directly to scripture, and especially the stories, rituals, and symbols related to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. The structure and nature of the Church are taught in formal ways. Education related to creation helps the child develop holistic relationships with the created universe. Teaching children about self and others promotes compassion, kindness, and the spiritual values that are at the heart of the Catholic faith. Religious education keeps God at the forefront through the development of values, attitudes, knowledge, and skills.
Storytelling (through narrative stories, parables, and liturgical signs) enhances and supports the core content areas. An integral part of Christian history, faith, and tradition, storytelling cannot be separated from a religious education or a religious life. Christ's story was given via storytelling, and has emerged in ways that have helped people develop a relationship with Christ. Teachers are in the unique position of using storytelling in the classroom as a tool to help children cultivate faith and a spirit of Christian love. Narrative stories are drawn directly from the Bible, appealing to children in their traditional structure and characterization, which they can apply to their own lives. Parables are the pithy words of Christ that "invite creativity and challenge the listener to understand situations in a new way," (Archdiocese of Sydney, 2005, p. 22). Finally, liturgical signs, symbols and actions provide an experiential dimension that is a unique component of religious education.
As all religious academies, Christ the King, North Rocks is more than the content of its classroom curriculum. The religious…