Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Schools and Centres


First Supervisor

Professor Roger Vallance


Throughout its history, the Catholic Church has regarded the family as the most influential factor in shaping and nurturing the faith of each generation. Within the family, parents are considered to be the first and primary educators of the faith of their children. Irrespective of years of genuine effort by the Catholic Church in Australia to support parents in their task of nurturing the faith of their children, the area of family catechesis still remains inadequately addressed, hence the significance of the study. The aim of this research was to investigate how Catholic parents, who do not send their children to Catholic schools, nurture the faith of their children within the context of the home. A review of the literature indicated that this specific target group has largely been understudied with only fragmentary research. The purpose of this study was to give this group of Catholic parents, who consider themselves a marginalised group within the Catholic Church, a voice in sharing their experiences and concerns of the task of nurturing the faith of their children. The study sought to make a contribution to remedying this marginalisation. A total of 36 parents (n=36) participated in the research. The sample was selected using a purposive sampling procedure. The parishes were drawn from two Regional Zones of Priests within the Archdiocese of Perth; a rural zone and a metropolitan zone. A total of eleven Catholic parishes participated in the study; each parish having distinctive demographics. The research was qualitative in nature. The primary means for gathering data was face–to–face interviews. Semi–structured guiding questions were used during the interviews. The interview data was coded and analysed using three coding methods; open coding, axial coding and selective coding. Transcriptions of the interviews were set up within the qualitative data analysis computer program QRS NUD*IST [Non–numerical, Unstructured Data, Indexing, Searching and Theorizing Tool] (N6). The study identified three distinctive understandings of faith. The metaphor “voices” was used to distinguish between the understandings. These three interpretive voices were identified as the voice of orthodoxy, the voice of faith as a lived experience and the voice of faith as an active struggle. These voices are archetypes, or descriptions of distinctive styles. The understanding of faith identified in each voice became the basis to describe the link between the understanding of faith held by the parents and the way faith is nurtured within the context of their homes. The results indicated that a number of nurturing strategies have been implemented within the homes of this group of parents. The most common nurturing strategies included: Mass attendance; prayer; reading the Bible; conversations and discussions about faith issues; through witness and example; and attending the Perth Archdiocesan Parish Religious Education Program (PREP). The way in which such strategies are implemented, that is, the nurturing style, is what set the three archetypal voices apart. From the results a conclusion was drawn that parents within the Archdiocese of Perth who do not send their children to a Catholic school, are aware of their responsibility as the nurturers of faith of their children. For this group of Catholic parents, faith is an essential part of family life. There is a strong parallel between the understanding of faith held by parents and the nurturing style adopted to nurture faith within the context of the home. The results also revealed that most parents in this group are clearly not confident in their task of nurturing the faith of their children within the home. They perceive their own religious knowledge to be inadequate and thus depend on Parish Religious Education Program (PREP) for support. This study has been valuable as it has given voice to a group of parents whom have been largely understudied. The study enabled this group of parents who do not access the Catholic school system to make noteworthy input to the story of how faith is nurtured within the context of the Catholic home.

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