Articles Under: Catholic Schools

The religious identity of students enrolled in Catholic schools is increasingly diverse. In most classrooms today, it is common to find students who identify themselves as Catholic, those who practice other religions, and some who are not religious. It goes without saying that a Catholic school would want all of its students, regardless of their religious orientation, to feel included in the school community. However, this goal must be achieved in a way that does not compromise the school’s ability to fulfill its distinct mission of educating, evangelizing, and catechizing its students. What, then, is the best approach for welcoming... Read more
This article explores chapters 7-8 of the Directory for Catechesis. Introduction and Context It is now twenty-three years since I eagerly read the last General Directory for Catechesis and made efforts to implement its teachings within the catechetical programs in some of the Catholic schools in Australia. Much has changed in our world since 1997, and the new Directory for Catechesis has achieved an outstanding synthesis of what was sound and helpful in the earlier document, while taking us forward with new and profound insights for today. In this article, l will be addressing the essential contents of chapters seven... Read more
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Recently, I spoke with a graduate student in one of my courses on Catholic schools. Because she is not a religion teacher, she struggled to understand how she could carry out the mission of Catholic education. This faith-filled woman knew she was serving the Lord by fulfilling her duties conscientiously, but she did not recognize how her work could foster her students’ spiritual lives. She needed a vision for carrying out her educational activities in a way that leads her students to God. I illustrated for her how she could teach her subject area so that her students learned from... Read more
Evangelization is a primary function of Catholic schools. Although they provide quality education in a variety of subject areas, as agents of the Church, they share the larger mission of the Church: forming disciples of Jesus Christ. Catholic schools should and must be more than public schools that also happen to have religion classes. Speaking about the role of the Catholic school, the Vatican II Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis states, “But its proper function is to create for the school community a special atmosphere animated by the Gospel spirit of freedom and charity, to help youth grow according... Read more
In Lumen Gentium , the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, we are taught that “all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity” (40). If wit and brevity are more your speed, perhaps Mother Angelica said it better: “if you’re breathing and you’ve got two legs, you’re called to holiness.” [1] This is an important thing for every catechist to remember, especially on days when students seem extra bitter, extra ornery, and extra closed-minded. God still loves each of them profoundly... Read more
At the beginning of my second year of teaching religion in a Catholic high school, I began prompting my students in each lesson with a question that helped them apply that lesson to their own life circumstances. One day, in the middle of a lesson on original sin, I asked the students to write a letter to Jesus telling him what the “forbidden fruit” was in their lives and asking his help to resist it. Because students knew I would be collecting and reading their responses, I did not anticipate anything very serious. I was surprised, therefore, when “Monica” wrote... Read more
By definition, Catholic schools are an extension of the Church’s saving mission of evangelization, with a special responsibility to provide “a privileged environment for the complete formation of her members” within that context. [1] That “complete formation” must have as its goal a lively and enlivening relationship with Christ specifically in the Eucharist, around which all apostolic work and even the other sacraments are centered ( CCC 1324 ). Turning that belief into practice is one of the most critical activities in which a Catholic school must engage if it is to fulfill its own identity within the larger context... Read more
What makes a school Catholic? Is a school Catholic because it exists with the permission of the bishop of the diocese, or it is a member of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), or it is an extension or an outreach of a parish community, or it has a crucifix in every classroom and religious artwork throughout the building, or because its curriculum includes religious studies, or because the pattern of its practices align with the National Standards and Benchmarks of Effective Catholic Schools , or because Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation are celebrated for the student body during... Read more