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1 Our Catholic Schools 2006-07 A Discussion on Ontario’s Catholic Schools and their Future Institute for Catholic Education.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Our Catholic Schools 2006-07 A Discussion on Ontario’s Catholic Schools and their Future Institute for Catholic Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Our Catholic Schools A Discussion on Ontario’s Catholic Schools and their Future Institute for Catholic Education

2 Our Catholic Schools – Two Conversations “Two conversations …. must take place now, at this time, at this defining moment in Catholic education in Canada. The conversations might be called “The Conversation behind the Wall” and “The Conversation at the Wall.” Canadians who continue to enjoy the privilege of Catholic education are the people “behind the wall.” You are being summoned to engage in a very serious conversation regarding the future direction, yes, even the survival, of Catholic education. You are being challenged by the people at the wall to define yourselves and to articulate your distinctiveness as a publicly-funded educational institution. It is impossible to go to the wall and engage those at the wall in a conversation unless all of you together agree and are clear as to your purpose, mission and meaning. This clarity demands a shared conversation about Catholic education in Canada and the precarious situation in which it finds itself. It is a defining moment for all who believe in Catholic education. Sister Clare Fitzgerald Forward to the book Catholic Education: The Future is Now, by James Mulligan, CSC Ref: Introduction

3 The Purpose of Catholic Education

4 Our Catholic Schools – The Purpose of Catholic Education The purpose of Catholic education is embedded in its spiritual, sacred, religious, Catholic roots. Anything that invalidates, threatens or undermines those roots will cause profound disturbances and, eventually, the demise of Catholic education. The vision or purpose of Catholic education must, at a minimum, be co-owned and co-nurtured by parents, trustees, administrators, teachers, students and the wider Catholic public, including, and especially, parish priests. If vision is transformed into passion and passion is transformed into commitment, the demise of Catholic education in English Canada will be contained in Newfoundland.” Sister Clare Fitzgerald Forward to the book Catholic Education: The Future is Now, by James Mulligan, CSC Ref: Introduction

5 Our Catholic Schools – Catholic Schools – Christian Communities After all is said and done Catholic schools are about creating small Christian communities which are meant to mirror the values of the home and the Church. This is the learning environment Catholic educators seek to create. What these communities provide to students in this fragmented society of ours is a zone and a sense of personal stability. Amidst all of the many voices and messages with which young people are bombarded, amidst all they learn from the media, what they hear on Muchmusic, what they read in the newspapers and watch on Television - amidst all these voices they need a word and a voice which assures them some stability. They need some clear and uncompromising sense of identity which only community can offer. Msgr. Dennis Murphy Catholic Education Week, 1999 Ref: DP 1a

6 Our Catholic Schools – Faith in Every Student

7 Our Catholic Schools – Faith in Every Student When I walk in a classroom as a Catholic teacher, when I see my students, I have to know that each one of them is a child of God, created by God, for God, and that they are destined to go home to God. If you do not believe that, you’re in the wrong school. I believe there’s a God and that we’re all going home. This whole journey on this earth is a journey home to God. That’s the whole basis of our educational system. We are here to nourish that child on the journey home. As well as proclaim, we must provide. In every one of our schools we must provide space and time for the sacred, for the holy. Retreat time, prayer time. We also must provide space and time for the academics. To be Catholic is to be intellectual. As educators, this means we’ve got to love learning – that’s the ballpark we’re playing in. Sister Clare Fitzgerald Address to Renfrew CDSB November 1999 Ref: DP 1a

8 Learning How to Listen to God

9 Our Catholic Schools – Learning How to Listen to God In short, kids need a culture and environment that allows them, in all of the noise of the contemporary world to hear the whisper of the Spirit, the gentle urging of Jesus, the call of God. Perhaps they will not follow in the way of that word and that call today. Perhaps they will not even follow in its way tomorrow. But for all of their life they will have learned how to listen to God. They will have spent many hours in a community which tells them who they really are – a community which ever echoes the word of Jesus in today’s gospel, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” This finally is why Catholic schools are distinctive, and why they are schools to believe in. What these schools offer to our kids is a gift not only to our Church but to our society as well. Msgr. Dennis Murphy Catholic Education Week, 1999 Ref: DP 1a

10 Our Catholic Schools – Values Daniel Buechlein, Archbishop of Indianapolis, wrote that Catholic schools are guided by a number of values that Catholics share with many other religious traditions: God comes first; reverence for the sacred – the belief no one is fully human or truly free until he or she respects spiritual realities; the importance of family; the dignity and sacredness of every person; the importance of telling the truth; purity of heart (the desire for what is right and good); and the realization that happiness does not come from material things. Robert Barlow Religion Columnist, London Free Press Ref: DP 1b

11 Our Catholic Schools – Catholic School Councils What essential role or roles should school councils play if their ultimate purpose is the betterment of education? It is well to recall that the primary purpose of school councils must not be to empower parents, principals, teachers, parishes or any other community groups or business concerns. School councils must rather assist all of these groups to empower children to learn better. “Catholic School Councils for Tomorrow” Response of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association to The Education Improvement Commission Paper: “The Future Role of School Councils” Ref: DP 3a

12 Our Catholic Schools – The Cost of Indifference One can look at the demise of Catholic education in Newfoundland form two perspectives: eternal factors and internal factors, or pressure “from without” and erosion “from within.” More important were the factors “from within,” factors, and attitudes within both the institutional church and the larger Catholic education community that, over time, compromised the quality of Catholic education, making much of it indistinguishable from public education and, consequently, causing it to be perceived by the public – including most Catholics – as unnecessary and unwelcome duplication….. (One such factor was) the breakdown of the home-school-parish myth. The home-school-parish partnership paradigm continued to be promoted but, in effect, this model ceased functioning in the early 1970s with the secularization of the culture and the fragmentation of more than a few families. Reaching the parents and selling them on the value of Catholic education was an enormous challenge, a challenge, unfortunately, that ended in failure. Too many Catholic parents were indifferent to the value of a Catholic education. Too many priests had little to do with the schools. Too few schools made sincere overtures to collaborate with the parish. James Mulligan, CSC Catholic Education: The Future is Now Ref: DP 3b

13 Our Catholic Schools – Transforming the World We must proclaim and provide, and as Catholic schools we must also promote. We promote social justice. We promote a better world. There is an essential difference between Catholic education and public education. We both educate the child and transform the child. But Catholic educators also educate the child to transform the world. The goal and objective of Catholic education is the world. It is not the child. We are called to influence the world. Jesus Christ said go into the world and proclaim me. The world is the goal and the focus of our education systems. That child is being educated morally and ethically with the concept of social justice and peace to go out into that world and make a difference. Sister Clare Fitzgerald Address to Renfrew CDSB November 1999 Ref: DP 3c

14 Our Catholic Schools – Distinctiveness We must grasp firmly the challenge of providing a kind of education whose curriculum will be inspired more by reflection than by technique, more by a search for wisdom than by the accumulation of information. Pope John Paul II Newfoundland, 1984 Ref: DP 4a

15 Our Catholic Schools – A Tradition to Support All the money in the world will not assure the continuation of Catholic education. Fidelity to Catholic roots and heritage will. Sister Clare Fitzgerald Forward to the book Catholic Education: The Future is Now, by James Mulligan, CSC Ref: DP 4b

16 Our Catholic Schools – Other Faith Communities Our commitment to the best education for all students impels us to respect and support the wishes of parents in other faith communities for religious education in the public school system or for alternative schools which will reflect their values and beliefs…. We have publicly committed ourselves to support the concept of the development of alternative schools for people of other faith communities.” “This Moment of Promise” Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops Ref: DP 4c

17 Our Catholic Schools – Benefiting Society No one who is concerned about the increasingly secular and materialistic nature of our society should seek the abolishment of the Catholic system. No one who is concerned about the growing disparity between the rich and the poor in our society should be opposed to Catholic education. By teaching moral values and placing emphasis on the formation of conscience, Catholic schools benefit society. Robert Barlow Religion Columnist – London Free Press December, 1999 Ref: DP 4c

18 Our Catholic Schools – The Gift of Catholic Education It is becoming clearer to the Catholic education community that publicly-funded Catholic education is an unparalleled gift. To be sure, it is a right enshrined in the Constitution, but as we saw in fall 1997, the best lawyers in the land cannot protect that right if the Catholic stakeholders don’t care, or if they take the gift for granted. Outside of a dedicated minority…it would seem that the majority of Catholic stakeholders in (Newfoundland and Quebec) were no longer interested in a Catholic school system. In the rest of Canada, we must allow our apprehension vis-à-vis the future of Catholic education to motivate us even more to care for this unparalleled gift of Catholic education. Now, more than ever before, as partners in Catholic education, we must become a vigilant community. We must ensure that Catholic education contributes significantly, for example, to the social project of …Ontario. We must be protective of the distinctive character of our Catholic schools. James Mulligan, CSC Catholic Education: The Future is Now Ref: DP 4c

19 Our Catholic Schools – Parent participation and support I would like to conclude ….. with a word of invitation to parents, especially those who are active in Catholic school councils, to own for themselves the vision of Catholic education ….. and to actively contribute to shaping our present vision of Catholic education to meet the demands of the future. In a Catholic school or school board, we will only be effective to the measure that a core group of parents is as passionate as we are about our mission. Parents…. are a precious and absolutely essential nucleus of the concern and commitment we need in Catholic education… The school team needs your support. At times, they will need your prophetic voice and wisdom. Be a link between the parish and the school. There is much you can do to facilitate communication; to build up the parish-school community… Perhaps the most important dimension of your involvement will be to reach out to other parents: talk to them, invite them, persuade them to take an active role in your Catholic school community… Continued

20 Our Catholic Schools – Parent participation and support We desperately need that core group of committed Catholic parents in each school to expand its focus and become more intimately involved in building up the Christian community of the school. In an era when lay ministry is flourishing in the life of the church, your active participation in the Catholic school is a most effective expression of your baptismal vocation as a follower of Jesus. James Mulligan, CSC Catholic Education: The Future is Now Ref: DP 5a

21 Our Catholic Schools – Thank you


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