The Transmission of a Religious Heritage to Younger Members of Small Ethnic Communities in a Pluralist Society: The Perceptions of Young Copts

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1st Stage: The design of the questionnaire was informed by the literature (for instance, Harris & Moran 1998, Hay and Nye 1998) and the findings of a previous research project which investigated the perceptions of middle school students in Catholic schools of their religiosity and spirituality (Engebretson, de Souza & Salpietro, 2001). From this, a relational dimension of spirituality was identified which was relationship to self, to others, to the world and to God or a Divine presence. The questionnaire was divided into two sections. The first focused on the background of the participant in relation to gender, family, and cultural and religious practices. The second drew on the relational dimension of spirituality that had been identified from the literature, and items were constructed that focused on the following four aspects:

  • Mystery of the existence of God or a Supreme Being – the focus was on a sense of a transcendent dimension in life, a sense that each person has a reason for being, prayer.
  • Inner lives and sense of self – items related to an awareness of one’s own identity, the need for quiet, reflective times, and the act of creating as an expression of the inner spirit.
  • Others and the world –items included aspects of values and justice, relationships and influences.
  • Influence of a religious tradition on spirituality – items related to the role of family and individual religious practice, links to Church, priests and other members of the hierarchy.
109 students from Years 6, 9 and 11. These comprised the total number of students from each of these Year levels. Location: Two Coptic schools in Melbourne, Victoria Quantitative – Questionnaires 2nd Stage Questions focused on:
  • participants’ involvement in religious activities associated with their tradition;
  • perceptions of themselves as belonging to the Coptic community – that is, their sense of identity;
  • experiences of their lives as active members within their faith tradition in a pluralistic, secular society;
  • perceptions of how other young people from outside their community may have viewed them.
Young Coptic adults aged between 24 – 32.
Location:Coptic Centre, Donvale, Victoria Qualitative – Focus Group Interviews Transcripts of interview recordings Funded by: Cardinal Clancy Centre for Research, ACU

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Religion and Secularism, Religion and pluralism, Transmission of culture to the next generation, Religiosity, Pluralistic, Ethnic communities, Ethnicity, Coptic

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