In this special interview with former Director of Catholic Education for the Archdiocese of Brisbane, David Hutton, we explore the big picture issues in Catholic Education. For almost four decades David Hutton has been deeply involved in Catholic Education and he shares with us a range of insights and memories from that journey.
Download the podcast above and discover what makes a great Catholic school and how we can take the best of the Catholic tradition and share it with staff and students.
To learn more about the Going Deeper Online Staff Formation program mentioned in this podcast click HERE
What’s your current role?
Co-ordinator of Faith Formation and RE Programs at the National Catholic Education Commission
What do you spend most of your time doing in this role? Tell us about your work/vocation?
This new half time role aims to promote enhanced national collaboration across dioceses, religious institutes and others involved in the areas of Catholic school identity, faith formation of staff and students and classroom RE. Currently I am engaging with key people in these areas across the country to see what ‘added value’ NCEC might bring to this area and to hear more about their contexts, projects, programs etc. NCEC will have a very limited role given it is a peak body with modest resources and it will observe the principle of subsidiarity and respect the role of diocesan bishops as the chief teachers. However it will look to promote the common good and sharing of ideas and resources in what is a relatively small Australian Catholic population.
What is something you are most passionate about as a Catholic person? What are the big issues, topics or questions that most interest, excite, compel or motivate you?
The best of the Catholic tradition and Catholic life (and as sinful people we must acknowledge there is a worst of it too ) is exciting and has so much to offer to individuals and culture generally – the intellectual, affective, aesthetic and practical/behavioural dimensions of our faith. Yet many are not exposed to all this. It is important for us to help people draw upon our rich past and present so that they can be intelligent and spiritual Catholics who are making a practical difference to promote the reign of God. Its promoting an understanding of faith that involves the head, heart and hands.
How does your Catholic faith inform, shape, guide, or motivate your work/vocation?
Being Catholic has been fundamental to who I am all my life but I have grown and changed in my understanding of it along the journey of nearly 60 years. My mother was of Irish Catholic stock and my father a Scottish Presbyterian. That has given me an ecumenical understanding of my faith. I was fortune to be nurtured by the Presentation Sisters, the Marist Bros and many fine priests during my school years. Later I was fortunate to be exposed to the spirituality and world views of others particularly the Jesuits, Carmelites and Benedictines. The bottom line is that it is all about Jesus, but always lived within a community of faith which is the Catholic Church. Prayer and discernment have been important but also a sense of providence that my life will unfold in God’s time if I am open to his grace. I have never been disappointed despite anxieties and challenges at times.
How do you think the Church can make an impact in culture? What are the main things you think we should be focused upon in the process of the New Evangelisation?
As I mentioned above, the church has a rich intellectual, spiritual and pastoral heritage. Ideally families, parishes and schools expose our young people to this heritage, but we know that many lack the formation at all levels to do this. Schools are often trying to do this without family or parish input. Many teachers themselves through no fault of their own need formation intellectually and spiritually. This is probably the greatest challenge facing leaders in Catholic education today – recruiting and forming teachers and leaders for the present and the future. Clearly there are many aspects of our modern culture which are not supportive of a religious worldview, however I don’t believe we can ‘circle the wagons’ and go back to the past. We need to find a way to connect the lifeworld of teachers, students and families with the Jesus story as lived out in our tradition. I am heartened by Pope Francis’ pastoral approach which seems to bring these two elements together – the ‘messiness’ of our personal lives and the power of the gospel message. It’s a complex process but we must bring life, faith and culture together if we are to truly evangelise.