At the heart of Catholic education there is always Jesus Christ: everything that happens in Catholic schools should lead to an encounter with the living Christ. If we look at the great educational challenges that we will face soon, we must keep the memory of God made flesh in the history of mankind – in our history – alive.
A growing number of young people are drifting away from the institutional Church. Religious ignorance or illiteracy are rising. Catholic education is an unglamorous mission. How can students be educated to exercise their freedom of conscience and take a stance in the immense domain of values and beliefs in a globalized society?
In many countries, Catholic schools do not receive adequate pastoral guidance in the multireligious context they are supposed to evangelize.
As far as educators are concerned, “deculturation” is limiting their knowledge of cultural heritage. Easy access to information, which nowadays is broadly available, when it is not selected with critical awareness, ultimately favors widespread superficiality among both students and teachers, not only impoverishing reason, but also imagination and creative thinking.
The number of educators and teachers who are believers is shrinking, hence making Christian testimony more rare. How can a bond with Jesus Christ be established in this new educational context?
But once the crisis hits, parishes realize that Catholic schools are often the only places where young people encounter the bearers of Good News. In many instances, these schools have become open to cultural and religious pluralism and, in some countries, priests and religious men and women are not present there. This is an unprecedented situation, which requires the presence of committed lay people, who are well prepared and willing to engage in a very demanding task. In many cases, this awareness has led many lay Catholics to organize their action but, quite often, their commitment is also characterized by diffidence towards the institutional Church, who has become uninterested in Catholic schools. Bishops must urgently rediscover how, among different modes of evangelization, an important place must be given to the religious formation of new generations, and schools are a precious instrument for this service.
( Excerpts from EDUCATING TODAY AND TOMORROW: A RENEWING PASSION. Instrumentum laboris.2014)
Nature and Purpose of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
Inspired by the message and example of Jesus Christ, Catholic schools live out a distinctive educational vision. Supported by the Catholic community of which they are a vital part, they invite students and their families into a faith‐filled educational experience.
As a key ministry of parishes and the diocese, Catholic schools encourage and support parents in their responsibility for the faith formation of their children. This formation is supported by prayer and opportunities to participate in the life, mission and liturgy of the broader Catholic community.
Our schools commit to:
Catholic schools are part of a long tradition of Catholic education provided by religious and lay teachers in Australia and this diocese for over 180 years. They fulfil parents’ rights to choose the schooling for their children which reflects their own values, beliefs and hopes.