Special Religious Education

Catholic Education

Special Religious Education refers to education provided by authorised representatives of approved religious groups to students in State schools.


To contribute to building the kingdom of God by making Jesus known and forming a community of faith in our area.


The Parish Office, 02 4979 1101


‘Special Religious Education’ (SRE) is the term used by the NSW Department of Education and Training to describe education provided by authorised representatives of approved religious groups to students in State schools whose parents have nominated that religion. It occurs on school premises at a time negotiated with the school.

Our volunteers work in the Public Schools at Hamilton, Hamilton North, Hamilton South, Merewether, Merewether Heights, Newcastle East, The Junction and Tighes Hill. Most of the classes our volunteers take are joint denominational with children from different religious backgrounds. Classes are half an hour long and are held weekly.

Our current practices follow the policies adopted by the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in 2008.

History of SRE

In 1970 Monsignor Cotter, then Parish Priest at St Joseph’s, Merewether, saw a need for parishes in the Newcastle inner city area to work together on catechesis in State schools. At the time Monsignor Cotter said, “The clergy and the faithful band of helpers went to the schools each week, each doing the best they could”.

Parishes then began to cooperate, share resources and support each other. Sister Joseph Mary rsj was appointed as the first catechesis coordinator, and the City Schools Apostolate was established. Sister Joseph Mary used a room in St Joseph’s school at The Junction for meetings and resources and Sisters Mary Nora, Carmel Newcombe and Christine O’Connor rsj followed in her footsteps.

For many years the teaching of religion by volunteer Catholics in State schools in our Parish was known as the City Schools Apostolate, but this name is no longer used.

Click here for a more detailed history (on the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese’s website) of religious education in State Schools in the Diocese, including the formation of the City Schools Apostolate in what is now St Benedict’s Parish.