Bethlehem’s school based pastoral care refers to the total care of the student. “Pastoral care” recognises the dignity of the person and is reflected in both the process and attitude with which it is implemented.

Pastoral Care

Bethlehem’s school based pastoral care refers to the total care of the student. “Pastoral care” recognises the dignity of the person and is reflected in both the process and attitude with which it is implemented. In its Vision Statement for the Archdiocese of Sydney, the SACS Board places importance on “education as a search for personal meaning” and envisages Catholic Schools as “living faith communities”.

At the heart of Bethlehem College is our pastoral care system, in which all teachers are expected to accept responsibilities for the development of quality relationships, the provisions of satisfying learning experiences and the establishment of an effective care network both in and beyond the classroom.

The aim of pastoral care is to support and assist our students to develop appropriate self-direction and personal responsibility in accordance with the shared values of the school community. This promotes a healthy self-concept and an optimum teaching and learning environment. Pastoral care strives to foster a school culture in which high levels of achievement take place within a positive social environment. It promotes the highest standards of behaviour based on cooperation, mutual respect, responsibility, self-discipline and positive relationships amongst students. The College seeks to assist each student in her spiritual, intellectual, social, physical, and emotional development. Self-discipline is seen as integral to this process of development.

Guidelines

1. There are two networks within the school which aim to support teachers in their pastoral responsibilities.

  • The first consists of the Homeroom Circle Teacher, who should be the first point of contact, and the Year Coordinator and Assistant Year Coordinator.
  • The second consists of classroom teachers supported by Studies Coordinators.

2. The College Discipline Policy and the Procedures Document clearly details staff, students’ and parents’ rights and responsibilities in this area. This is documented within the student planner and the staff handbook

3. In cases where students need extra care then the Stage Coordinator and Assistant in consultation with the Assistant Principal or Principal, will make arrangements for the student to see a school counsellor or arrange outside counselling following contact with parents.

4. In cases where concerns about pastoral care of students involve abuse, the procedures of the Child Protection Act are followed. Procedures that are followed are contained in the Bethlehem College Child Protection Policy document. The Principal instigates the process following notification.

5. Stage Coordinators and Assistants meet regularly to discuss pastoral care programs at their year level and the care of students.

6. The induction of new staff includes detailed information regarding the Pastoral Care Policy of the College.

Catholic Life & Religious Education

Bethlehem College was established by the Sisters of Charity in 1881. The Sisters administered Bethlehem for one hundred and ten years and the College retains very close links with them. The Sisters’ motto – Caritas Christi Urget Nos – the love of Christ impels us -continues to inspire a strong commitment to providing outstanding education for girls and developing in them an ethic of service to the wider community. Bethlehem aims to foster students with positive self images, independent, courageous and enquiring minds, and a genuine concern for others. We are committed to the development of young people who value themselves as woman, who are concerned about significant issues in our world as they relate to justice, peace and the environment, and who value prayer and the reality of God in their lives. Our College motto Este Fideles ensures that we remain faithful to God, to ourselves and to each other.

Communal Prayer

Prayer is a focal point of life at Bethlehem College. Both staff and students have the opportunity to share in daily communal prayer and to lead it. All classes, meetings and gatherings commence with prayer. Faith development and spiritual formation at Bethlehem College is fostered by prayer before each and every class, either lead by the teacher or student:

  • Morning prayer during home room
  • Class liturgy in either the classroom, Chapel or St Vincent’s Church
  • Staff & students pray the Rosary
  • Staff & students participate in the Sacramental Programme
  • Encouraging positive student behaviour, participation and leadership at liturgies, especially whole school liturgies in St Vincent’s Church
  • Supporting the Lenten Programme and Project Compassion
  • Encouraging students to actively support Social Justice initiatives, through Faith in Action, the C.A.R.E. group and St Vincent de Paul Night Patrol.

Liturgical Celebrations

Mass is celebrated at least once a term for our whole school community by Father Alan Gibson our Chaplain. Each year group attends mass once a term with the Parish of St Vincent’s. Special liturgies are also celebrated during the term. Bethlehem College has a rich and vibrant liturgical programme with students taking active leadership roles in music, readings, decoration and liturgical dance. The Mother’s and Father’s Day Masses and breakfasts each year are a great success with over one hundred parents and relatives in attendance.

Retreat, Reflection & Spirituality Days

Students are given the opportunity to attend either an overnight or one day retreat each year. Staff spirituality days are also important for staff development and are provided throughout the year. Through retreats, spirituality days, daily prayer and liturgical celebrations, the spirituality of both staff and students is fostered. Below is an outline of our retreat programme:

Year 7 My New Community – Reflection Day
Year 8 Jesus: The One Who Loved and Helped Others – Reflection Day
Year 9 Jesus as Friend – Reflection Day
Year 10 God’s Gift of People – Two Day Retreat
Year 11 Jesus as Leader – Reflection Day
Year 12 Towards Discipleship – Two-Day Retreat

Social Justice Initiatives

In a spirit of creative fidelity to the love that Mary Aikenhead, the foundress of the Sisters of Charity, had for Christ and for the poor we strive to speak out boldly against all forms of injustice in whatever we do. Open to the reality that this will challenge us to respect and reverence the whole of creation the cultures and traditions of every race and nation moving us beyond our fears and prejudices as we try to respond to the needs of our times.

Project Compassion and the St Vincent de Paul Winter and Christmas appeals are important parts of the whole school social justice programme. Students have the opportunity to demonstrate their Faith in Action through outreach initiatives including visiting residents in local nursing homes and supporting refugees through Settlement Services Australia based at Ashfield.

The Charism of the Sisters of Charity who were the founders of our College 128 years ago is kept alive through our social justice work. We also acknowledge St Vincent de Paul the patron saint of our Parish, whose Charism also permeates our College and our good works.

Contributions to the broader Church

Bethlehem students are active in their witness to the broader Catholic Church both local and universal. Our Youth Ministry Coordinator oversees the organisation of opportunities for students to participate in faith development and evangelisation events which involve prayer, liturgy and shared worship. These are often organised as informal events including after school with neighbouring diocesan schools in the Inner West.

Bethlehem College students have also represented the College as pilgrims in all recent World Youth Days including most recently in Krakow in 2016 and over 100 students will attend the Australian Catholic Youth Festival being held in Sydney in December 2017.

Connecting with our charism of the Sisters of Charity is also facilitated through Year 11 students’ voluntary participation in the St Vincent’s College Street Retreat which takes place in the July holidays each year. This five day event, attended by student and staff representatives from Sisters of Charity schools all over Australia enables those students who choose to participate and accompanying staff to see first hand the plight of the homeless in the inner city of Sydney and learn more about how we can make a difference through witness and outreach to those less fortunate than ourselves.

Accreditation of Religious Education Teachers

All Religious Education Teachers at Bethlehem College are accredited by Sydney Catholic Schools to teach Religious Education which focuses on the Sydney Archdiocesan Religious Education Program, supported by the text book, To Know Worship and Love.

Year 11 and 12 students have the opportunity to choose the Category A Studies of Religion Course for their HSC pattern of study or continue participating in the Religious Education program of the school through the Category B (non-ATAR) course, Catholic Studies.