As Canon of the Cathedral and Chaplain of the School for 18 years, Father Geoff Chadwick is a longstanding member of staff, dedicated to progressing the Religious and Philosophical Curriculum at Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School.
Father Geoff was initially drawn to the ministry at the age of eight due to the impression that he would only have to work on Sundays. It took a few people of significance, including a priest, to tell Father Geoff that he should wait to pursue the priesthood until a more serious interest was developed. “I thought to myself that God was ganging up on me,” he said.
Father Geoff was ordained in 1990 and commenced working at the Perth Diocese. He then accepted the part-time position as the Parish Priest for the congregations of Gelorup, Brunswick, and Burekup. In 2001, Father Geoff’s mother-in-law, who was working as a Secretary to the Head of School at Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School, alerted him to the availability of relief teaching opportunities. As a qualified Science and Mathematics teacher, Father Geoff commenced relief teaching at the School. Four years later the then Bishop of Bunbury invited Father Geoff to interview for the position of Chaplain at the School.
“It was an interesting interview since I knew everyone who interviewed me, as a result of relief teaching at the School. I was offered the position as Chaplain in the middle of 2005 and have been the Chaplain ever since,” explained Father Geoff.
The Chaplain’s role involves caring for the wellbeing of students, their families, and staff at the School and sharing leadership of the spiritual and religious life of the School. The opportunity to officiate at weddings for staff and past students and going on camps with the students are highlights for Father Geoff.
“I have been on Outward Bound eight times and I still love it,” he said. Father Geoff has also baptised staff members’ children, who are now his students, “every now and then I remind them of that,” he said humorously.
Father Geoff has been instrumental in implementing the Religious and Philosophical Studies (RaPS) into the Secondary curriculum. Over 18 years, there have been changes and improvements to the course. Initially, Father Geoff was working alongside Mrs Heather Campbell to improve RaPS, guided by recommendations given by the Australian Religious Education. When Mrs Campbell moved on, he continued refining the course.
“We now no longer just talk about the Christian faith, but discuss other faiths, their involvement in history, as well as bringing some philosophy and ethics into what is taught. I also find that through watching movies, you can lead some religious and philosophical discussions,” said Father Geoff.
The School is a member of the National Association of Religious Education in England, providing the School with access to additional professional resources and curriculum. One of these additions to the course is Communities of Inquiry, based on Socratic pedagogy, which encourages small group dialogue to explore and reflect on ideas and concepts.
“Students do a number of these, so that they can have an opinion and a point of view, and disagree with someone without conflict, and I really hope that students take that away with them,” he said.