Interfaith Encounters Inter-school program 2023

During term 1 & 2 this year, Catholic Mission has been facilitating the Interfaith Encounters Inter-school program with senior students from four secondary schools, Australian Islamic College of Sydney, Gilroy Catholic College, Malek Fahd Islamic School, and St Patrick’s Marist College. This 5-module program which covers themes such as: identity, difference, stereotypes and human dignity, concluded with a Celebration held at St Patrick’s College on Monday 29th May.

This event was emceed by the students and started with a Welcome to Country by Uncle Allan Murray, and a Catholic Prayer and Recitation from the Qur’an by students. We heard from 2 guest speakers, Caroline Allen, Senior Community Engagement Officer (Blacktown) Australian Catholic University and Calisha Bennett, Informal Education Officer at Together for Humanity, who shared their Interfaith experiences and stories. Along with a moving student musical performance, we heard empowering reflections on the program from a student from each school.

An excerpt from Aya, a year 11 student from Malek Fahd Islamic College sums up the journey these students have been on together and the great impact of this program:

“Religion and culture are two things that are intertwined into our world and they have for centuries. They influence our every move, the way we interact and the decisions we make. Around the globe religion has impacted history, ideology, the arts and even the laws. As a society we are dived by religion, when each and every one of those religions are a call for peace. Here we are divided, rather than united. The lack of understanding we have of each other. The less we understand about one another’s differences and what makes us similar, we will never move forward as a society. But learning from each other, our histories, our stories, what makes our religions the way they are, we can bring unity and peace to the ever-growing society we live in. Programs like Interfaith Encounters are bringing us one step closer to a greater understanding of one another. I’d just like to say thank you to Catholic Mission and to St Patrick’s for hosting us.”

Catholic Mission thanks all the students, teachers and our collaborating organisations, Young Christian Workers/Students (YCW/S) & Together for Humanity, for a wonderful start to 2023 and we look forward to engaging with more schools soon. Funding for the Interfaith Encounters inter-school program has been provided by the NSW Government through Multicultural NSW under its COMPACT program. The program is led by Catholic Mission and delivered in partnership with schools and both faith based and secular community organisations.