NCRS – providing tools for teachers
Dr Chris Duthie-Jung
In 1976, Fr Ezio Blasoni SM received a letter of commission from the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference to begin producing resource materials to support Catholic education on a national basis.
Subsequently, Fr Ezio, who was based in Sacred Heart Parish Hastings, surveyed school and CCD religious education teachers around the country. With the aim of producing a statement of essential Catholic teaching in faith and morals, he then set about devising a National Religious Education Syllabus. In a nutshell, this is what the National Centre for Religious Studies (NCRS) continues to do today.
NCRS is now one of the three organisations, along with the Tertiary Education provider (PTE) and the Nathaniel Centre, which forms the Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand. NCRS works with teachers and principals from all over New Zealand to continue developing the RE curriculum delivered in our 190 Catholic primary and 48 Catholic secondary schools.
Current staff includes myself as Director; Anne Kennedy, Associate Director; and Melania Luka-Lui, Office Administrator. Two websites support the online provision of the curriculum for RE teachers, www.FaithAlive.org.nz (Years 1‒8) and www.FaithCentral.org.nz (Years 9‒13).
NCRS has warmly welcomed the Bishops’ statement on The Catholic Education for School-Age Children as it clearly outlines the intent of all of our efforts to form new generations of Catholics. Challenges ahead include addressing the need for a revitalised approach to Catholic education for the significant number of our children and young people who are not in Catholic schools.
As with RE curriculum development in our schools, this project will examine and draw on the local Catholic communities of New Zealand, and overseas, to identify what is emerging as the most promising ways forward. We are going to need adults – young and old – to assist as parish-based teachers.
Knowing your faith through living it is a great start but spending a little time studying it at greater depth is also vital in order to do the role justice. Now is the time for anyone interested in collaborating in this crucial ministry to consider a paper or two to get geared up!
See www.tci.ac.nz/ncrs for more information about NCRS.
Dr Chris Duthie-Jung is Head of Partnerships and Director of NCRS.