Rite & Reason The theme for Catholic Schools Week this year is “Catholic Schools in the Community of Faith: Sharing the Good News”.
schools during this week celebrate and reflect on a critical element of
their identity: schools function as part of the parish community of
faith and they act on behalf of parents who choose the school to which
they wish to entrust their children for their education.
Schools do not
work and exist in isolation. They are part of the faith community and
part of the civic community and of society.
As schools celebrate
and reflect on their identity and future in Irish society there is much
to be grateful for. Catholic schools have a long and noble tradition and
have made a significant contribution to educating young people in
Ireland. The Catholic Church is committed to its role in education and
will provide schools in response to the needs of parents.
State is committed to diversity in education and in particular to the
provision of denominational education at primary and secondary level. In
2011 the Minister for Education and Skills established a Forum on
Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector to consider how school
patronage might reflect the needs of parents in Ireland today.
was decided to survey parents to ascertain their views. It is of the
utmost importance that an accurate outcome is achieved so that the
patrons and the State can respond with appropriate provision. Giving
life to the Catholic ethos is a concern for all associated with our
schools. It is first and foremost an issue for individual schools.
schools are required to show respect for the person made in the image
of God, to have commitment to justice, to set aside time for prayer and
reflection, to be open and welcoming to all, to be characterised by
respect for the tradition of Catholic education, to seek renewal
of that tradition in responding to current realities, to nurture a
relationship with Jesus Christ and to have a love for knowledge.
Catholic schools seek assurances from the State which has publicly
acknowledged its commitment to denominational education for those who
wish to have their children educated in faith-based schools.
Government has indicated there is no plan to impose a secular system of
education. It is essential that the State gives a commitment to the
effect that faith-based schools will be given adequate guarantees to
ensure that such education will be provided into the future.
and respectful relationships exist between church and State in relation
to education provision. The patronage system which has served us well
requires now that all involved respond to the needs of increased
diversity and significant minorities in the population.
The forum was an
innovative first step but it will not solve all the contentious issues
in providing for the education of our people.
can only be done following a clear determination of the wishes of the
people and a guarantee that the ethos of schools under the varying forms
of patronage is guaranteed and protected.
require teachers professionally trained to teach and form young people
in the Catholic faith. There is a strong public interest and
particularly among Catholic parents in the provision of appropriate
training for such teachers.
The Irish Catholic Bishops have made clear
their support for denominational third-level colleges. Recently they
stated: “Given the commitment of the State to diversity in education and
in particular to the provision of denominational education at primary
and secondary level there is a strong public interest in the provision
of appropriate training for teachers in these institutions.”
also stated that: “ . . . they look forward to a continuing dynamic role
for denominational Colleges of Education into the future whereby their
autonomy is respected and appropriate funding is provided.”
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