While Catholic schools welcome students and families of all denominations, each school has local conditions that may make it easier or more difficult to enrol.
Some of the most common questions families ask us revolve around ‘enrolment eligibility’ and how we approach ‘teaching’ of our Catholic faith at St Mary’s Primary School.
Today, we will answer these questions to give peace of mind to any parents questioning whether they’d be a good fit for our school. We’ll also cover other commonly asked questions regarding how we approach Religious Education.
St Mary’s Primary School is unapologetically Catholic; however, it is all-inclusive and welcomes everyone, regardless of their faith background.
Do you have to be, or become Catholic, if you wish to enrol?
No, you do not have to be or become Catholic to enrol at our school.
We offer enrolment to Catholic families within our parish as a first priority. We then use a list of enrolment criteria to offer enrolment to other families. This list can be found within our Enrolment Policy located on our school website.
Does every child learn the Catholic Faith?
Yes, the teaching of our Catholic faith is interwoven into aspects of the curriculum and is inextricably intertwined into all that is taught at St Mary’s.
How do you teach Religious Education (Catholic Faith), and does everyone have to be involved?
The teaching of our Catholic faith is strongly interconnected with our English, Wellbeing and STEM Inquiry programs, and therefore all students are involved at all times.
- Common themes are drawn from different subject areas and are used either as a lens for teaching or as a resource to engage students in critical thinking and work.
- From time to time, standalone lessons in teaching our faith are necessary to either address a particular focus area, support students in their preparation for a specific aspect of faith education, or prepare for a special mass or sacrament.
How much time is spent teaching religion?
On average, approximately thirty minutes per day is allocated to teaching faith education.
However, because the teaching of our Catholic faith is interwoven with other subject areas most of the time, the teaching of faith education enhances the curriculum significantly, rather than taking time away from it!
How often do students go to church?
As a whole school, students attend annual seasonal Catholic Feast Day masses (approximately four per year) and an end of term celebration mass.
Students preparing for a sacrament attend mass once a week for approximately five weeks leading up to their sacrament – this is an integral part of their preparation.
- Liturgies associated with our Catholic calendar, such as Lent or Advent and other occasional events, are celebrated mostly as part of a whole school assembly and/or in class.
Where does prayer fit into the school day?
Morning prayer lasts 10 minutes. It is a routine part of the school day across all classrooms at St Mary’s Primary School. It is an excellent example of how our faith is interlaced into the curriculum, as this time provides a significant opportunity to support the well-being of our students.
- Other prayer times include before lunch and at the end of the school day.
Is preparation for the sacraments (Reconciliation, First Eucharist, and Confirmation) done at school?
Yes, all preparation for the sacraments of Reconciliation, First Eucharist, and Confirmation are done at school.
- As with all student learning experiences, the partnership between home and school is essential. Parents are their children’s primary educators, and the school builds on that foundation. Consequently, we greatly value parent support in helping to model and reinforce concepts taught in our school.
Does everyone make the sacraments of Reconciliation, First Eucharist and Confirmation, or just Catholics? If not, won’t my child feel excluded?
Only Catholic students formally receive the sacraments of Reconciliation, First Eucharist, and Confirmation. However, all students participate in the sacramental program and the celebration of the sacrament itself.
- Students who are Catholic formally receive the sacrament.
- Students who are not Catholic formally receive a blessing, while Catholic students receive the sacrament.
‘Faith Nights’ are offered to all year levels not preparing for a Sacrament (Foundation, Year 1 and Year 2) once each year. Staff create open-ended activities that enable both parents and their children to engage in conversation about a range of faith topics.
These activities create a stimulus for further dialogue between parents and their children and support parents to make ongoing links with our religious education curriculum.
How involved is the priest in St Mary’s Primary School?
Our parish priest, Monsignor Stuart Hall, is an exceptional role model and supports all that we do at St Mary’s.
- Monsignor Stuart regularly visits us as a staff, attends school events, and is very willing to provide expert support around the many facets of faith education that arise in our teaching and the preparation of students for the sacraments Reconciliation, First Eucharist, and Confirmation.
- Monsignor Stuart is also very supportive of requests from staff to visit students in classrooms.
What links are there between the school and the parish?
The Principal of St Mary’s Primary School attends Parish Pastoral Council meetings and works with Monsignor Stuart and the council to build connections between the parish and school. Examples of these include:
- Bringing the school and parish together to celebrate annual seasonal feast days and events where the celebration of the mass is a collaborative one between school and parish.
- Creating opportunities for the school and parish to come together to support social justice causes such as Caritas, the homeless, St Vincent De Paul, Christmas Hampers, and more.
- Providing opportunities to work together on matters relating to Child Safety.
- Development of a Parish/School Youth Program.
- St Mary’s Care provides support for families in times of celebration and need.
At St Mary’s Primary School, we strive to light a spark in all of our students that will grow throughout their lives. We want to provide them with the most precious gift we can give them: Faith!
Life’s road is not always smooth, and in times of need, faith is what gets us through.
We are proud of who we are and what we do. We are a school where people of all faith backgrounds and non-faith backgrounds are warmly welcomed.
If you would like to know more about our school, we encourage you to book a School Tour by clicking here.