Imagining education milestones after the disruption of lockdown can be daunting. A program at Holy Spirit Lakemba is supporting its students in one of the most important aspects of life – a sense of belonging at school.

Grade-based spirituality days are a key part of the six-year framework that guides student and staff spiritual growth while in school.

The framework was developed by the secondary school’s Religious Education Coordinator (REC), Petah Foran.

The framework includes six themes – one for every annual spirituality day. Each theme is built around a question Jesus asked and attached to a Gospel value. 

“For Year 7 the question is ‘What do you seek?’ and the value is ‘community’,” Ms Foran said.

“It is an opportunity to build a real sense of school spirit” – Petah Foran


“The students’ Spirituality Day happens in Week 4 of their first term, so it’s all about getting to know the college,” Ms Foran said.

“We can tweak the programs as little or as much as they need based on staff and student feedback, while still staying authentic to the framework. 

“Feedback from the students has been very positive.”


Ms Foran’s role sees her work with staff and students from all areas of the secondary school, an opportunity she finds rewarding.

“I don’t teach Drama, but the Drama students’ enthusiasm to help and to participate in liturgies is wonderful,” she said.

“Our Creative Arts Department makes stuff, and the Hospitality students do a lot of the catering for our Mother’s Day and Father’s Day liturgies.

“It is an opportunity to build a real sense of school spirit.”


With spirituality being one of the components of wellbeing outlined in the PDHPE (Personal Development, Health and Physical Education) syllabus, Religious Education is designed to go beyond school masses and liturgies.

“I hope that when the students leave here they have the ability to critically engage with their world and to know that to lead a really fulfilling life you need to be grounded in a number of areas,” Ms Foran said. 

“It can’t just be all about work – or play. It has to be about family and faith and working hard and having that ethic around that.”

“Engagement is actually going out there and making a difference in their community, however that community is defined” – Petah Foran

“It’s doing what you can with the skills that you have, in the place that you’re at to make a difference,” Ms Foran said.

“Everyone doing a little bit can change a lot. It’s that sense of being part of something greater than ourselves, and what motivates us as a faith community is that connection to Christ and to God.”