Dufferin-Peel Catholic teachers joined theologian Josephine Lombardi, centre, for one of the Scripture Series presentations that helps educators evangelize their students. Photo courtesy of Patricia Dal Ben

Teachers are equipped with tools to better evangelize their students

  • August 22, 2018

It is impossible to teach about faith to students if the teachers themselves are not formed in the Catholic faith, says education consultant Patricia Dal Ben.

That is why she is working with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) to help its educators gain a deeper understanding of Scripture and the sacraments. 

“The reality is that the majority of our teachers have, if we’re lucky, have a Grade 12 (Catholic) education. The last time they took religion was in high school,” said Dal Ben. “This is an opportunity for them to extend their learning and engage as adults.”

In addition to qualifications required by the Ontario College of Teachers, Catholic teachers are required to present a baptism certificate and a letter of recommendation from their parish priest to be eligible to teach in a Catholic school board.

Dal Ben is an academic consultant for the school board’s religious education, faith formation and arts-based education. As a Catholic educator for 28 years, she dreamed of a program that helped equip teachers to better evangelize to their students. 

Last school year, she helped launch the Scripture Series for teachers to gain a deeper understanding of Scripture, the sacraments and Catholic social teaching through a monthly workshop. 

“What (speakers) did was they connected different pieces of the curriculum and things we are working on in our board,” said Dal Ben. “The feedback was wonderful…. People were hungry for more and they really, really enjoyed it.”

This year’s Scripture Series featured speakers like Fr. Darren Dias on scriptural history of the sacraments, Josephine Lombardi on faith and science and Anne Jamieson on math as found in Scripture. 

There are also 20 Dufferin-Peel teachers studying for a Master’s degree in Religious Education through a school board partnership with University of St. Michael’s College. The first class will graduate in November. 

“I’ve been ignited to share all the wonderful experiences of religious education that is offered to us,” said Dal Ben, who graduated with a Master’s in Theological Studies from St. Michael’s College last year. “I just keep trying to bring them to the water.”

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