What is Core to Catholic Education Today? 

I believe what is essential for Catholic education today is to be able to nurture a culture of faith.  Faith can permeate everything we say and do.  Faith can almost become like the air we breathe.  It is there all the time waiting for us to pause and reflect before taking a next step. It may also be there hovering as quite ‘out of the blue’ we are struck by a new idea, proposal or reaction.

I see this culture of faith nurtured in three ways:

1.   Discerning Leadership

In leading catholic schools we are endeavouring to respond to the call of God both as individual leaders as well as members of leadership teams.  This philosophy extends across the various groups in our school communities.  What is God asking of us at each particular moment of our day?  To decide well, we need a carefully developed culture of faith, which supports a daily rhythm of personal and communal prayer. Our fast moving world can distract us from embracing periods of quiet when we can attend to the silence in our hearts and meet Jesus.

2.   High Quality Liturgies

Our Catholic Church provides us with great means of relating more closely to Jesus through our liturgies.  These could be full scale school Eucharists, small class liturgies or other forms of prayer together.  Over the centuries our liturgical expressions have developed, particularly through the energy and ideas provided by the Second Vatican Council.  The Word of God can speak loudly to us.  The need to understand the context of Scriptural readings might impel us to take on theological studies so we can become more attuned to the Spirit moving as we reflect on and discuss these passages.  Our liturgies can provide each of us with the opportunity to speak the Word of God to each other.

3.   Excellent Dialogue

With the more diversified faith backgrounds of our staff and students, our teaching responsibilities are increasing.  Being steeped in a deep understanding of the role of faith in our schools, we are called to express coherently what we see as the faith vision for our Catholic school communities, to listen deeply to the response of those in our communities and to dialogue with them.  We do this most effectively in our one to one or small group encounters.  What is God calling us to at these times and in these places as we work together to nourish our faith communities?

May the Holy Spirit continue to guide you as daily you respond to the call of God in your wonderful ministry.

References: The values of Catholic Education by Nicholas King SJ    http://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/20130906_1.htm

The Language of Silence by Ron Rolheiser OMI http://www.ronrolheiser.com/columnarchive/?id=70

John McMahon

14th September, 2013