Catechists celebrate annual CCD Mass

2019 CCD Mass 02
Bishop Vincent Long with student representatives at the annual CCD Mass at St Andrew the Apostle Parish, Marayong. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

More than 500 Special Religious Education teachers (SRE/catechists) from the Diocese of Parramatta have gathered for the annual Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) Mass and Awards Ceremony.

SREs from across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains made their way to St Andrew the Apostle Parish, Marayong, joining 200 student SREs from 19 Catholic high schools on Friday 13 September.

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, was principal celebrant for the Mass. Concelebrants included Fr Peter Williams, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, Monsignor Ron McFarlane, parish priest of St Andrew’s, and twelve diocesan parish priests.

Dal Trapp lit the memorial candle as the congregation paused to remember past SREs who have died, including his wife Marie Trapp, who had been Parish Coordinator for St Bernadette’s Parish, Dundas Valley, until her death earlier in the year.

Dal Trapp lights the memorial candle at the annual CCD Mass at St Andrew the Apostle Parish, Marayong. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Other members of the catechist family who died in the past year include Rita Morgan, Jean Gorman, Mary Storey, Dianne Hocking, Pearl Schroeder, Judith Field, Br Joseph Byrne and Agnus Nethercott.

During his Homily, Bishop Vincent encouraged the catechists to “be visible signs of hope to their students.” In reference to the Parable of the Sower in the gospel reading of the day (Mark 4:1-9), Bishop Vincent urged SREs to go deep and not operate at the level of “superficiality and opportunism.”

Bishop Vincent Long at the annual CCD Mass at St Andrew the Apostle Parish, Marayong. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

“We are all on a mission to empowering others to be guided by the Spirit of humble service and to seek not to be served but to serve.

“The key to this service”, Bishop Vincent added, “is developing an inner relationship with God and to have an awareness of God in the everyday.”

Following Mass, Bishop Vincent presented service awards and certificates to SREs who had served between 15 and 45 years, and to catechists who had completed their Level 3 studies.

Fr Zvonimir Gavranovic and Anne Sullivan from the Parish of Baulkham Hills, together with Gustaw Kaster from St Andrew’s and Margaret Climpson from St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, each received a special award for 45 years of service to the ministry of Special Religious Education.

(L-R) Gustaw Kaster, Anne Sullivan, Bishop Vincent Long, Margaret Climpson and Fr Zvonimir Gavranovic at the annual CCD Mass at St Andrew the Apostle Parish, Marayong. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Lesley Bosci from Christ the King Parish, North Rocks and Ray Love from St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta received awards for 40 years of service as an SRE.










Retiring parish coordinators Alice So from Baulkham Hills, Renuka Soosaipillai from St John XXIII Glenwood-Stanhope Gardens and Iny Walker from Our Lady of the Rosary, St Marys, were recognised for their dedication and commitment to SRE.

This year, the school community where the student SRE program started, Caroline Chisholm College, Glenmore Park, celebrated 20 years of service to SRE.

School Principal Greg Elliott, Religious Education Coordinator Bernadette Murray, Coordinator Mitchell Sutton and students were presented with a Papal Blessing. John Corrigan and Veronica Sultana, parishioners of St Padre Pio Parish, Glenmore Park, who initiated the program at the school, were recognised for imagining how high school students could become SREs and go into local public schools.

Representatives from Caroline Chisholm College, Glenmore Park, receive their Papal Blessing at the annual CCD Mass at St Andrew the Apostle Parish, Marayong. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

“Generations of students have worn the Catechist badge with pride, working in our local public school, Glenmore Park Public, as they seek to model a youthful faith to children. As the founder of the program, along with Veronica Sultana, I was pleased for our school to receive the Papal Blessing,” John Corrigan said.

“It was highly rewarding and a privilege to be part of this celebration, and I was proud to represent Caroline Chisholm College in receiving the Papal Blessing – recognising 20 years of the College’s service,” student Christine Muscat added.

Following the awards ceremony, guests enjoyed lunch and fellowship on the parish grounds.

CCD Director Cecilia Zammit expressed her gratitude to Monsignor Ron and the community at St Andrew’s for hosting the Mass and congratulated all the award recipients.

If you would like to find out more about becoming an SRE teacher or an assistant teacher please contact your parish office, or Maree Collis on 8838 3485 or email

View images from the annual CCD Mass