Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Schools and Centres


First Supervisor

Professor Chris Hackett

Second Supervisor

Doctor Anne Coffey


Students in Western Australian Catholic schools learn about Catholic beliefs and practices in the Religious Education Learning Area. In Catholic secondary schools, Religious Education Coordinators (RECs) are delegated responsibility from principals, to coordinate the teaching of this learning area’s content. RECs are required to be committed Catholics who are active members of the Catholic Church. It is probable that RECs will increasingly be recruited from amongst Generation Y Catholics. For Catholic secondary school principals, recruiting religiously committed Generation Y Catholics into the position of REC will be challenging.

The primary aim of the research is to identify and describe the experiences that form and sustain Generation Y RECs. The research has two foci. Firstly, the RECs’ personal and professional experiences where their Christian faith is formed and sustained are explored and described. Secondly, the research investigates how the RECs have been formed and sustained professionally. The study has social constructionism as its epistemology. Data was gathered by conducting two rounds of narrative interviews with eight RECs, with a year’s interval between the first and second round of interviews. Thematic Narrative Analysis was used to analyse the data.

The research findings suggest that the Christian faith of most of the Generation Y RECs is formed and sustained through personal experiences in families, parishes and other Catholic communities. The faith and Catholic identity of several RECs were reinvigorated through professional experiences while they were employed as teachers in Catholic schools. This reinvigoration of faith consequently influenced them to pursue the position of REC. Experiences within professional networks, the support of school principals and Catholic Education Western Australia were described by most RECs as sustaining them professionally. The majority of RECs expressed a desire to progress to more senior leadership positions and a commitment to seeking out and engaging in professional and faith formation experiences. The findings of the study may inform the policies of Catholic Education Commissions and Catholic schools in Australia, in the areas of identification, recruitment and the formation of RECs.

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