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Playing game of hide and seek with God


There are a lot of ‘wondering’ questions and plenty of discussion when students at St Anthony’s School, Edwardstown gather for religious education lessons, as the Diocesan Visitation Team discovered recently.

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As part of its visitation to the Edwardstown parish, on October 31 members of the team were able to see how the Godly Play model for telling Bible stories is being utilised at the school.

APRIM Robyn Mercer, who has been a trained Godly Play story-teller for the past decade, likened the approach to “playing a game of hide and seek with our God”.

“God is searching for us and we are searching for God,” she said.

Kicking off her shoes as she settled in to tell the Year 2/3 class the parable of the mustard seed, Mrs Mercer said the students were always “very enthralled and engaged”.

“I never fail to be moved by what they say… it is the simple language of children but their responses are profoundly theological. I learn so much from them too – the process is not intended to be catechetical but much learning always takes place.

“Godly Play does not tell children who God is, it invites children into the stories of our faith and to discover God for themselves.”

Created by Jerome Berryman, Godly Play provides the educator with scripts based on sacred stories from the Old and New Testaments, parables, liturgical actions, and the lives of saints. Small figurines and props are used to add visual impact and students are invited to answer several ‘I wonder?’ questions. The willingness of the adult to wonder with the children is key to the process.

Mrs Mercer said the beauty of the program is that there are no right or wrong answers, with participation and ‘wonder’ being the main aim.

Demonstrating this with the mustard seed parable, she asked the group questions including “I wonder if the person who sowed the seed had a name? I wonder how he felt when he first sowed the seed? I wonder if the birds had names?” – with the answers as diverse as those present. Mrs Mercer rounded off the session with the lingering thought that “perhaps Jesus might be trying to teach people that there is enough space for all of us in God’s heart”.

Teacher Michelle Colagrossi said Godly Play helped religion to come alive as it was “so visual” and “children feel they are part of the story”.

Visiting the small Edwardstown school was part of the Diocesan team’s ‘long day’ in the parish, which also included several prayer gatherings at St Anthony of Padua Church. The weekend Masses during the visitation were celebrated by Fr Philip Marshall and afterwards parishioners were able to share their thoughts on renewal with members of the Office for Renewing Parishes.


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