The Catholic continuum

Ann Rennie 11 August 2021

The ongoing story of Catholic education.

Back in the middle 1970s the nuns thought that I was a possible candidate for a vocation. Perhaps they recognised something in my adolescent yearnings, in my way of being in the world that prompted them to think of me as a fit for that special consecrated life. But I was 18 and life held other meanings for me.

Forty-five years later, I am now working at my alma mater, Genazzano FCJ College, and somehow the circle of vocation is being completed within me. I am now fulfilling that universal call to holiness, using (I like to think) my gifts wisely and well. I have chosen to work in the Catholic system because, as well as the joys of teaching English, I want to pass on some of the joys of faith. I have had the great privilege of working with the Good Samaritans and the Dominicans and am now at home with the charism of my childhood years, that of the Faithful Companions of Jesus.

Over my almost 25 years in Catholic education, I have been privileged to be part of a team bringing faith to life. I have worked with leaders, liturgists and lecturers, chaplains and classroom teachers, retreat givers

and spiritual directors, men and women of faith who are doing the often unsung work of passing on the stories, tradition and culture of the Church. What makes our system so distinctive is that so many people bring their hearts and souls to work, not just to be paid, but to contribute to something that will last beyond their lifetimes.

As I often say, we, in Catholic education, are working for eternity!

I am of the whole-hearted belief that as educators in life and faith, we write on the souls of the next generation. As an educator, I believe that I am doing good, and often a good that will not be seen in KPIs or objective outcomes or external benchmarks or data analytics or reportable on an end-of-semester report. It is good that flowers in character and attitude and ultimately in behaviour. At school, I am at home in my working life. I am of service. I can tell stories and laugh and encourage and listen.

Saint John Henry Newman wrote that God had committed him to some work to which he had committed no other, that he was a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. That is where my friends and colleagues are today, a link in the chain of the Catholic continuum, part of the 200-year story of Catholic education in Australia. My calling is to engage those young people around me, just as I was engaged half a lifetime ago by those wonderful FCJ sisters.

It is a small giving back because I am putting my faith in the future!

> Ann Rennie’s new book Blessed: Meditations on a life of Small Wonders is available through Laneway Press,