By Br Nicholas Seet
The third Catholic Education Conference was held at CHIJ Toa Payoh on Monday 14 March 2017 with a huge turnout of about 600 participants consisting of educators from the Catholic kindergartens to Catholic Junior College as well as students and sponsoring authorities, representing some 35 Catholic schools. The theme today was "Heart of a Catholic School."
For this year’s conference, there were 2 breakout sessions. The first breakout session was to gather from the participants their perspective of what makes the "heart of a Catholic School." A video was shown of different students, educators and stakeholders of what it is that makes our Catholic schools unique. It was significant that the Conference wanted to gather the different perspectives of the participants as to what makes a school Catholic.
The panel discussion chaired by Fr Adrian Danker, SJ with panelists Magdalene Chin (school leader), Sr Theresa Seow (Sponsoring Authority), Lin Ganfeng (teacher), Toh Si En (student) and Serene Sim (parent) brought forward what had been discussed in the groups as well as enriched the discussion as to the views of the stakeholders of our Catholic schools.
His Grace, Archbishop William Goh then shared that the Lord Jesus Christ is the reference point for all our discussions about a Catholic school as He is the answer to our deepest questions about life and its meaning.
The moving sharing of an alumnus of St Joseph's Institution, Matthew Tan, and his teacher pointed to the support Matthew felt when he recovered from a brain injury during his CCA. Matthew highlighted the invaluable support and faith he felt from the students and teachers of the school.
The second breakout session enabled the school leaders and educators to craft a statement written on a large heart shape board with a frame as a commitment to what they can do to make their school Catholic.
Finally, Prof Tan Cheng Han gave the concluding address when he shared his personal experience of a Catholic school as a student and what makes a Catholic school. He expressed his thanks to all the educators for all the efforts they are undertaking to help our students in our schools.