“You call me Teacher…
And rightly so, for
that is what I am.”
Why Catholic Schools?
Catholic schools have a lengthy and rich heritage. Universal education was one of the great gifts of the many men and women from religious orders. Centuries ago education was seen by these religious orders to be part of the great Christian mission to develop the whole person. Their gift has enriched Canadian society and culture. While fewer religious orders exist today, their legacy and mission has been taken up by a great number of other men and women. Here are some of the reasons why this work is still so important.
- The existance of Catholic schools is an expression of the desire, first put in place by the religious orders, of educating the whole person. The Catholic tradition has always been wary of dualism, of splitting the spiritual from the material. We hold that the material is sacramental to the spiritual. All education addresses the whole person. Not to attend to the religious dimension of the person is not to educate fully.
- Catholic schools do not exist to isolate or protect Catholics from others. They exist to make a contribution to the world. They are to embrace the world, just as God embraced the world and desired that it be. Catholic schools are defined not by what they are against but by what they are for.
- The teachings of Jesus are for all peoples and nations. God has no favourites. “Anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:35) Catholic schools are ecumenical, discovering and welcoming the good that is in all. It means schools must work together with and be open to other Christians and all who seek God.
- As publicly funded Catholic schools partake in the dialogue with culture and contribute to the well-being of civil society, Christians may be justly proud of the contributions they have made in shaping human self-understanding, setting standards for learning, and enhancing the human spirit. (The Catholic School #10)
- Vatican Council II in the document The Church in the Modern World #31 said, “The future of humanity lies in the hands of those who are strong enough to provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping.” For Christians the centre of living and hoping comes from Jesus Christ. Catholic schools set a high value on the teaching of religion centred on Jesus Christ. Religion is not a private affair; it is public, permeating all life. In Catholic schools all curriculum is shaped by His revelation of God and life. (Canadian Catholic School Trustees Association)
Distinctiveness of Catholic Schools – A Parents’ Perspective
The following are some of the distinctive characteristics of Catholic schools as shared by parents:
- Their Catholicity, defined as the visible signs of the faith within the school, the reality of a caring Christian school community, the shared faith of all members, the freedom to express the faith, and the important, cooperative relationship between the home, the school and the parish.
- Their relatively strict discipline policies that are based on the principles of forgiveness and reconciliation.
- Their vision of the need for education of the whole child – body, mind, and spirit.
- Their emphasis on social justice teachings.
- Their Gospel and family values that reinforce those taught at home.
What Parents Value About Our Schools…
- Our traditions and history: They want students to share the positive experience they associate with their own Catholic education. They want the history of Catholic schools and the rich traditions of the church preserved.
- The freedom our schools afford for expressing and sharing our faith in prayer, teaching, and celebration.
- Our holistic education in which the Gospel values taught mirror those in the home.
- The sense of community evident in our schools.
- The opportunity Catholic schools provide for evangelization of students and parents.
Comments, Thoughts, and Feelings from the students in our Catholic schools …
“Catholic Schools provide outstanding education. They provide an understanding of God’s ways…and help you see the good in everyone.”
“Catholic Education to me means being with those with similar beliefs and having more time to be with God openly. It is a great privilege and we are lucky to have it available to us. We learn and are closer to God than some get to be.”
“To me Catholic Education is a privilege. It helps us understand about more things in the world. It helps us to be a better person. It gives us a chance to learn and believe, because if we understand more we’ll have more faith.”
“My favourite thing about attending a Catholic School is you don’t have to be afraid to ask about God.”
“The liturgical services are very special. When we gather as a community to celebrate our faith, it seems that a greater presence is among us.”
“The friendly atmosphere is priceless… it allows people to be open and become involved in the school. As a school we seem to live out God’s Word in our everyday lives.”
“In Catholic schools Jesus sets the example.”
” We learn to give, to care, and to teach one another. We learn to share, help, and to respect each other. And most of all we learn about God, and His LOVE for us!”
” I like being Catholic and going to a Catholic school because we can be free to believe and every day we learn about God and how to pray to Him.”
“Students are taught that God loves us all, we are special, and we can turn to God in any situation. It is a great feeling to know that God will be with us when we are stressed or scared and we can always ask for his help through prayer. When faced with a difficult decision, or stressed over an exam, we know God can help us because that is what we have learned in school. Even in after school activities, students are reminded to turn to God for help and to thank God for the talents we are blessed with. Before a big game, an S.R.C. meeting, or even a drama play, we gather to pray and ask God to guide us and take away our fears.”
“The image of Christ the teacher was stamped
on the spirit of the Twelve and of
the first disciples, and the command
‘Go…and make disciples of all nations’,
(Mt. 28.19) set the course for the whole of their lives.”
Pope John Paul II; Rome 1979
We Have Catholic Schools …
- to make Christ known to each child
- to arouse the child’s inner spiritual dynamism
- to discover the value of each human person: loved by God, with a mission on earth and a destiny that is immortal.
- to awaken the light of faith so each child may discover God’s presence in their lives, and God’s work on earth through the actions of others.
- to bring faith, culture, and life into harmony.
- to incorporate the message of Christ in the educative process.
- to form, good, responsible citizens.
- to be an instrument of the Church.
- for parents to have their children nurtured in the Catholic Christian faith.
- for staff to provide a strong witness our faith to our children.
- for community to share in the evangelizing mission of the Church.
- to adopt school activities, policies, and rules which are based on the gospel message of Jesus Christ, a message of freedom and love.
- to provide places of hope arising from our belief that Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead.
- to discover the mystery of salvation.
All persons involved in the work of Catholic Christian Schools have the noble task of transmitting the Christian message. They are called, in imitation of Christ, to be a living witness and an ambassador of their faith.
These distinctive attributes of the Catholic school
ensure that it is not “self serving.”
Rather, Catholic education serves the whole society,
enriching the lives of people everywhere.
Through its unique nature,
the Catholic school benefits us all.