An Aramaic word for “father”. Aramaic, similar to Hebrew, was the language Jesus spoke. Abba was the word Jesus used for God, his loving Father. It is also an affectionate title given to senior monks in Egypt from which derives Abbot, the superior of a monastery of men, and Abbess, the equivalent for women. In either case the monastery can be called an Abbey.

Religious writings of the ancient Jews and Christians that are not included in the Bible. There are seven books in the Catholic Old Testament that Jews and Protestants regard as apocryphal, but which Catholics accept and sometimes refer to as Deuterocanonical (Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, as well as a few additions to Daniel and Esther).

From the Greek word apostle, meaning “one who is sent”.


The process of gathering and interpreting information about student learning.

Religious Education is organised into three interrelated strands: Knowledge and Understanding, Inquiry and Communication, and Discernment and Making Connections. These assessment strands are used to assess the learning of students at all levels from Foundation to Year 10.

The first sacrament of initiation into the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. It uses water and anointing with oils.

B.C.E. (or BCE) is a secular alternative to B.C. (or BC: Before Christ), dating the years before the birth of Jesus.

From the Greek word biblion, meaning “a collection of books or scrolls”. 

From the Greek episkopos, meaning “overseer” or “supervisor”. A bishop is the first teacher in faith for a diocese or “local church” (as distinct from the “universal Church”, headed by the Bishop of Rome, the pope). “Archbishop” is an honorific title, and usually denotes the bishop of a large diocese or one of historical importance.

The official collection of Church laws.

From the Greek word kanon, meaning “rule”, as in an instrument for drawing straight lines (not as in “dominate”). It can be used to refer to the “canon of Scripture”, meaning the list of books the Church accepts as authoritative because they are inspired by God. It can also refer to “canon law”, the rules and regulations elaborated by the universal Church as a guide to various practices and behaviours specific to the Church and its structure and personnel.

The process of instruction in the Christian faith of a believer. Religious Education may include catechetical moments.

A summary or exposition of doctrine. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official outline of church teaching.

From the Greek katholicos, meaning “universal”.

From the Greek word christos, meaning “anointed”.

In Greek the word is ekklesia, meaning “called out” or “assembly”. It refers to the People of God, a pilgrim people called out to fulfil the mission of God’s love to be salt of the earth and light of the world; also called “the Body of Christ”, “the Bride of Christ” and “the Way”. The word is also very commonly applied to the building in which the Church assembles for liturgy. 

C.E. is the secular alternative to dating the years after the birth of Jesus. Christians use A.D. (Anno Domini, meaning “In the Year of the Lord”) because from the Christian perspective everything changed with the birth of Christ, and he is the centre of history.

From the Latin word communio, meaning “union with”. It refers to receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist and to full participation in and membership of the Church.

The people of a Christian community who gather together, usually for prayer. It can also refer to a parish or to a community of men or women who have professed public vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, for example, Sisters of Mercy, Marist Brothers.

The human capacity to evaluate and choose, to the best of our ability, the best course of action in accordance with God’s will.

From the Latin words con templum, meaning “with(in) the temple”. It usually means to consider thoroughly, think fully or deeply about. In Christian usage, however, it means to pray entirely on God’s terms, to “abide in” the presence of God (hence templum, “temple”) with complete faith.

A grouping of concepts that helps provide structure to the Religious Education curriculum. In GNFL there are eight elements (previously called strands): God, Jesus Christ, Church, Scripture, Sacraments, Christian Prayer, Christian Life, and Religion and Society.

To thoroughly and carefully think through an idea or action or intention, and judge its value.

A term covering all of the arrangements made by a school to foster student learning and development. It is sometimes used more narrowly to refer to a course of pedagogical strategies and procedures in a particular discipline or organised content area with relevant goals and learning experiences, as in the Religious Education curriculum.

To state or set forth the meaning of (or to determine or fix the boundaries or extent of) a word or topic.

To separate one thing from another and clarify their distinctions.

To weigh up or judge the meaning of an idea or issue.

A learner, student or follower.

The expression of church doctrine within a curriculum conceptual framework.

Church teaching.

An officially defined, binding and authoritative doctrine.

The efforts by Christian churches to work toward full unity among all baptised peoples in the world in the service of the unity of all humankind.

This is the part of theology that considers the final things or the end time and the ultimate purpose and meaning of life and death.

From the Greek, meaning “thanksgiving”; the real presence of Christ in the sacrament of his Body and Blood.

The process of gathering and reflecting on information about the effectiveness of policies, programs, units and teaching practices. Its purpose is to improve the quality of planning and learning.

Bringing the Good News of the Gospel to all humanity, especially the most needy, and transforming the world from within.

A response to God’s grace consisting in committing one’s whole self freely to God.

To flourish is to thrive, to become what one is intended to be, to seek life to the fullest in accordance with our nature as the image of God.

The mystery that loves us revealed in Jesus, beyond time (eternal) and space (infinite), above our understanding (transcendent) yet present with us (immanent), loving everything into being (Creator); not so much “a” being as the “subsistent act of to be itself” (St Thomas Aquinas).

The basic meaning is “God’s free and beautiful gift of himself”. It has two essential aspects: it is free (as in gratis) and it is beautiful (as in graceful); and its purpose is to transform those who receive it in faith.

The Jewish Bible. An alternative name for what is commonly known as the Old Testament. However, note that the Hebrew Bible is not exactly the same as the Catholic and Orthodox Old Testament.

The conviction that we will receive what God has promised when the time comes.

In the words of the early Church: “God was made man that we might become God” (cf. St Athanasius, On the Incarnation).

The purposeful planning by teachers of goals, strategies and learning experiences to enhance the quality and integrity of learning across different curriculum areas.

From the Aramaic Yeshua, meaning “the Lord saves”.

The world in right relationship with God and itself, defined by St Paul as “justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Also: Reign of God.

A central idea that brings aspects of knowledge into a meaningful whole. It provides a broad cognitive map that is useful in exploring related ideas.

The communal prayer of the Church, especially when celebrating the sacraments.

The teaching authority of the Church, especially that of church councils, popes and other bishops.

From the Aramaic Marium, probably from the Indo-European root mari, meaning “woman” or “young woman” (the origin of the word “marriage”, meaning “the taking/purchase of a young woman”).

Loving kindness and compassion towards others (Hebrew: hesed; sometimes used as a synonym for “grace”). 

From the Latin, missio, meaning “sent”. It refers to Jesus’ sending the Church out into the world to spread the Good News of God’s love, especially to those who most need it.

Pastoral strategies directed to reawaken in baptised people a renewed relationship with Christ and the Gospel and a sense of living faith and of belonging within the church community.

The doctrine of original sin teaches that every person is born into a world greatly affected by sinfulness, and that each person has an inclination to personal sin. It derives from the teaching of St Augustine and the Jewish teaching about the “evil inclination” (yeserhara).

Or Learning Outcome: a result of learning and teaching. The outcomes of a learning sequence are identified through assessment strategies and the evaluation of the learning and teaching process.

A lay holiness movement within the Judaism of Jesus’ time, dedicated to renewal and observances of the Law of Moses. After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70, they became the spiritual leaders of Rabbinic Judaism.

Our relationship with God become conscious, deliberate and concrete; the way we communicate and directly relate to God; “the raising of the heart and mind to God”.

To announce or declare in an open way (see Witness).

The purging of everything in us and about us that stops us from accepting and enjoying God’s presence after we leave biological life; what God’s mercy does to us in our sinfulness once we die, to enable us able to receive his grace.

The act or practice by which the intellect turns back on itself or on its own operations.

See Kingdom of God.

See Kingdom of God.

Systems of belief (often, but not always, with reference to a deity or deities) and practice; often having sacred scriptures, rituals, laws and social organisation.

How a particular religious tradition imparts its teachings, values and beliefs to its students.

An organisational arrangement of learning and teaching resources for students and teachers. Its purpose is to assist teachers of Religious Education to present a cohesive and sequential program that builds on previous learning.

God’s free and loving self-communication principally through Scripture and Tradition. The word itself stems from the Latin, revelatio, which means “unveiling” or “uncovering”.

Signs of God’s love that are themselves what they signify; “earthly signs of heavenly grace”; material realities that point beyond themselves, making that which they point to present in themselves, transforming those who receive them.

The Jewish priestly aristocracy who controlled the Temple in Jerusalem until its destruction in the year 70.

Inhabitants of Samaria, the land between Judea and Galilee. They believe in one God and follow a form of the Mosaic Law, but worship on their sacred mountain, Mt Gerizim, not in Jerusalem. In the time of Jesus, there was intense dislike between them and the Jews.

A break in, or damage to, our relationships with creation, neighbours, God or self, to a fuller (mortal sin) or lesser degree (venial sin).

This is a principle of justice that is founded in the belief that everything God creates is good. All Christians therefore must be responsible and sharing stewards of all creation, and recognise that our relationship with the world must be respectful, conserving and fair to all. (See Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ (2015) about eco-sustainability and eco-conversion.)

The doctrine that the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, St Anne, was free from original sin by virtue of her son, Jesus Christ. It reminds us that this is how we are all meant to be from the beginning: free from sin.

Literally “God talk”: the attempt to speak about anything that is of importance in the light of our faith in God and God’s Revelation. St Anselm famously defined it as “faith seeking understanding”.

Since the inception of the Good News for Living framework, the textbook series To Know, Worship and Love (KWL) has played an underpinning role in its implementation in classrooms. In conjunction with effective pedagogy KWL can provide a solid basis for valuable student learning.

From the Latin tradere, “handing over”; the process of passing on the wisdom and experience of our ancestors in the faith. The Christian Tradition includes doctrines and teachings, forms of liturgy, spiritualities, art, music, customs—in fact, the living and active faith witness of all the baptised through the ages.

This refers to the Christian teaching that God is the triune relationship of love between the originating source of love (the Loving Father) and the ultimate object of love (the Beloved Son), fully united and absolutely one through the very being of Love they share (the Holy Spirit).

The ultimate gift of the Holy Spirit, because it is the Holy Spirit, God’s creative power of love; in human terms it is “experience well digested”; the combination and culmination of the gifts of awe, reverence, courage, knowledge, understanding and discernment.

To give testimony concerning something of which one has direct knowledge. In 1975 Pope Paul VI stated, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (Evangelii Nuntiandi 41). The Latin word for witness is martyr.