Catechist Authorisation, Training and Formation
Every catechist in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn must be formally authorised for ministry, and this involves five key steps:
Step 1: Initial Meeting between the Volunteer & Parish Leadership
The first step in the authorisation process is for a person wishing to engage in SRE to meet with their Parish Priest and/or Parish Catechist Coordinator. This meeting will involve getting to know the person’s background and experience, and to offer a brief explanation of the ministry, what it entails, as well as the space to ask any questions.
Step 2: Obtain or verify the required Government clearances
Following the initial meeting, if a Parish Priest / Parish Catechist Coordinator would like to proceed with engaging a person in SRE, the parish is to help the person obtain the required Government clearance if they don’t already possess this. For parishes in NSW, this is a Working with Children’s Check (WWCC) and for parishes in the ACT, this is the Working with Vulnerable People registration (WWVP). If the person is already in possession of the required clearance relevant to them, the parish is obliged to verify this clearance in order to forward the volunteers’ details to IPSS.
Step 3: Complete Training & Seek Authorisation from the Archdiocese
Once a catechist has obtained their Government clearance, the Parish Office then needs register their new volunteer with the Archdiocese. Upon receiving the volunteer’s registration, the Archdiocese will arrange and facilitate the mandatory training that is required for a catechist to be formally authorised for ministry.
The training aligns with key areas identified in overarching government policies and procedures, namely: (1) the safeguarding of children and young people; (2) classroom management; and (3) use of approved curriculum materials. During this stage, all catechists will also be required to sign an acknowledgement that they have read, understood and agree to abide by the Archdiocesan Child Protection Policy and Volunteer Code of Conduct.
Step 4: Receive Authorisation
Once it is verified that a catechist has successfully completed their mandatory training, their parish will be informed by the Pastoral & Mission Formation Coordinator who will be provide the catechist with a starter kit as well as an authorisation card (which catechists are also obliged to carry with them) permitting them to engage with SRE in their assigned school/s under the guidance and direction of their parish leadership. It is also an expectation that all catechists will adhere to any applicable directives issued by the Department of Education in NSW and/or the ACT.
The Archdiocese is required to provide each school with details of the catechists who are assigned to them, and this will include information such as their full names, their date of birth, and contact details of the local catechist coordinator. Other relevant information such as authorisation procedures, approved curriculum outlines, training programs and complaints procedures are also made available to schools as part of this process.
While authorisation of all catechists is reviewed on a periodic basis, it is vital that parishes advise the Archdiocese of any new volunteers wishing to engage in SRE (and to follow the steps outlined above). Equally, parishes need to inform the Archdiocese if they have volunteers that are discontinuing in their roles. Both the Pastoral & Mission Formation Coordinator and IPSS will request that parishes confirm this information at regular periods throughout the year. This ensures that we are adhering to the highest standards in ministry, and that compliance with Government requirements is maintained.
Step 5: Engage with ongoing support and formation.
All catechists engaged in SRE across the Archdiocese will be required to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to professional development in their ministry. The Archdiocese will provide a schedule of training and formation opportunities and experiences to build the skills and confidence of catechists throughout the year.