Previously a Catholic school principal in Melbourne and later head of Religious Education in the diocese of Wagga Wagga, Gerard Gaskin has recently opened business as a consultant. His company, Gerard Gaskin Consultancies Pty Ltd, is offering a unique service to the Catholic Church. Mr Gaskin proposes to assist any diocese that would like to develop its religious education materials and teachers' knowledge and classroom skills. He also offers consultancy in pastoral care and employee relations.
This approach represents a move away from the dioceses having to employ specialists in contracted roles, often for three to five years. Mr Gaskin offers to assist dioceses to complete set projects or services over a specific time frame.
Mr Gaskin was responsible for the development and implementation of Wagga Wagga's We Belong to the Lord primary school religious education syllabus. Readers of AD2000 may recall reports of the diocese's attempts to implement fully the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the early 1990s.
Due to Mr Gaskin's efforts, the syllabus is now embraced by the teachers and implemented in every classroom of the diocese's primary schools. Under his direction, the diocese also published a set of sacramental programs - First Holy Communion, First Confession and Confirmation - and lesson notes for teachers and catechists. His photography graces the full-colour covers of these fine children's texts.
Mr Gaskin offers the following explanation for these successes: "I think that the teachers and principals appreciate regular school and classroom visits, particularly in the more isolated country schools. There really is no substitute to getting to know the staff and children at a personal level and matching their needs with the Church's expectations. Inservicing, too, was vital in building teachers' confidence in teaching the doctrine of the Catechism. They also appreciate having professional quality teaching materials to use in the classroom."
Extensive inservicing of the diocese's primary teachers (more than 200) was initiated by Mr Gaskin and he and a number of diocesan clergy conducted hundreds of evening inservice sessions. Gerard is no stranger to adult education as he has given talks at a number of Thomas More Summer Schools and lectured for five years in catechetical theory and practice at Wagga Wagga's seminary, Vianney College.
His new venture promises to extend the skills he has developed over the past twenty-three years in Catholic education. For many dioceses with limited resources, the service he offers provides them with the chance to upgrade religious education materials and to inservice teachers without the expense of a full-time permanent executive staff. Mr Gaskin also offers consultancy in business ethics and workplace pastoral care to large and small organisations.