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Nine hundred delegates expected to attend Derry conference on religious education

By Cian Molloy - 24 August, 2019

Bishop Donal McKeown

Bishop Donal McKeown is “bowled over” by the response to the inaugural Derry Diocesan Religious Education Conference.

Some 900 delegates from the world of primary and post-primary education are due to attend the two-day event. The conference will take place at St Columb’s on 28th and 29th August.

“Clearly there is an enormous desire in our very fragmented society for Catholic schools to say ‘How can we best respond with a sense of community, with a sense of mercy and forgiveness, with a sense of value of human rights, with a sense of confidence in facing the future together?’” said Bishop McKeown.

“Our teachers are very much at the coal face in a society where there is so much pain, so much anger and so much distress.

“I hope this conference can grow into the future so that together we can realise the wonderful gift we have, and ensure that we can be a real blessing on society and a real servant for the common good.”

The keynote speakers are Professor Francis Campbell, vice chancellor of Saint Mary’s University, Twickenham, who will speak about “The Catholic school in the current culture”, and Fr Adrian Porter SJ, director of the Jesuit Institute of Education, London, who will talk about “The spirituality of the Catholic educator”.

As part of the conference there will be two public plenary sessions on each evening, starting at 7pm. On Wednesday evening, Fr Porter will speak about “Trusting God: promoting positive mental health in a Catholic School”. On Thursday evening, Prof Campbell will explore the topic “Why choose a Catholic school?”

“This is a very significant conference,” said Bishop McKeown.

He said while the inaugural event is chiefly aimed at educators serving in the north-west, he sees the conference as having a much wider impact in future years.

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