Catholic Special Religious Education

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The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) exists in every diocese in the Catholic Church around the world to give parish-based support to the teaching of religious education for catholic children who attend government schools. Amongst other work, in NSW, CCD has a strong focus on instruction on Church teaching.

The organisation began in the sixteenth century in Milan, Italy by a group of Catholics (priests and lay people) who noticed that many poor children and adults knew little about their faith and began instructing them. The concept was taken up by the archbishop of Milan, St Charles Borromeo, who directed that this work take part in all parishes in his archdiocese. In 1905, Pope Pius X, instructed that the Confraternity be included in all parishes.

The phrase Confraternity of Christian Doctrine simply means “group giving religious instruction”.

The CCD is an organisation that exists in all parishes in the diocese. The contribution made by the Diocese of Wollongong is in the employment of the CCD leadership team who provide a central organisation and support services to parishes.

Our Catechists are volunteers who, for the most part, teach religious education in local government schools, but many also work in other parish programs (such as sacramental programs). In NSW, religious education is mandated by the Education Act (1990)—which gives approved church authorities, and those they authorise, permission to teach what is called “Special Religious Education” to children in government schools. Parents of these children give permission for them to join a religious group each week for what is often called “Scripture”.

Each parish priest in the diocese has appointed a parish coordinator who has delegated responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the teaching of religious education in local government schools. Parish coordinators are supported by their team of dedicated catechists.

The CCD leadership team consists of a diocesan director who has overall responsibility for support services to parishes. He is supported and assisted by two regional faith education officers who are responsible for practical assistance to and training of catechists.

General enquiries

Confraternity of Christian Doctrine
Catholic Diocese of Wollongong
Xavier Centre
PO Box 1239 (38 Harbour Street)
Wollongong NSW 2500 Australia
Ph: (02) 4222 2403
Email: [email protected]

Catholic Special Religious Education

What is SRE?


The Education Act 1990 states, “In every government school, time is to be allowed for the religious education of children of any religious persuasion.”

Special religious education (SRE) is education in the beliefs and practices of an approved religious persuasion. Under the Education Act 1990, government schools allow time for SRE. It is delivered by authorised representatives of approved religious groups to students who have nominated that religion. Times for classes are negotiated with the school.

Why is SRE taught?


The Catholic Church sees the education of Catholic children in the faith as integral and key to its mission. The NSW Department of Education describes SRE as, “An integral part of school activities.” SRE can be seen then, as part of “a well-rounded education that values and supports the intellectual, creative, physical, social and emotional development of each child”.

Who are SRE teachers/catechists


Catechists are volunteers who are members of their local Catholic community. They are authorised and trained by their local parish priest and the Diocese of Wollongong. Catechists come from all walks of life but share the common mission of providing Catholic religious instruction for Catholic children in state schools.

What is taught?


In the Diocese of Wollongong, we have adopted the Christ Our Light and Life teaching curriculum which has been approved for use by Bishop Brian Mascord. The curriculum uses a systematic approach to faith education and progresses in understanding and complexity as the student moves through their primary schooling years.

How can your child attend SRE?


Catholic children are always welcome to attend Catholic SRE classes at their school. Usually, parents would nominate what religious denomination they wish their child to attend when completing the school enrolment form. Parents also have the right to change the SRE class their child attends at any time, or even withdraw them from SRE. This can be done by notifying the principal of your child’s school.

The benefits of SRE



We begin with the understanding that we were created by a loving God who calls us to fullness of life. In a culture which often focuses on the negative aspects of life, Catholic SRE is a breath of fresh air, where students are encouraged to see themselves as God sees them—inherently good, full of potential and capable of being a force for good in our world.


Encouraging children and young people to develop a relationship with Jesus is a key part of Catholic SRE. The curriculum used by Catholic SRE teachers aim to help children and young people make moral choices that are life-giving for themselves and others. Through the exploration of the teachings of Jesus and the stories in the Christian Scriptures, and by encouraging students to pray, Catholic SRE aims to provide children and young people with a framework to help them make choices that recognise the value and importance of our relationship with God, others and our world.


Children attending Catholic SRE classes receive lessons that give them background preparation for the sacraments that may be available to their age group. Catholic SRE teachers liaise with the local Catholic parishes to ensure that students and their families are aware of the sacramental programs being offered locally.

Staff directory

Confraternity of Christian Doctrine


Mr Jude Hennessy

Director of the Office of Renewal and Evangelisation
local_phone (02) 4222 2407

Mrs Frances Fairs

CCD Coordinator
local_phone 0427 475 339

Ms Sue Clark

CCD Administration and Support Officer