Creating a More Welcoming School: Addressing Culture and the Catholic Worldview

Authored by Clare Kilbane in Issue #7.1 of The Catechetical Review

https://pixabay.com/photos/teacher-learning-school-teaching-4784916/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 members of the school community who are not Catholic, while simultaneously catechizing those who are receptive to the faith?

Some schools, in an effort to welcome non-Catholic students, choose to “neutralize” the Catholic aspects of their school. They downplay the school’s Catholicity by reducing its visible signs on their website (e.g., removing overt references to its history). They also remove statues, crucifixes, and other religious art from public spaces and relocate them to private ones. Because requiring Catholic theology classes might appear to proselytize non-Catholic students, these schools adjust their curricula to be more flexible and open to individual differences. Participation in courses that address Catholic doctrine is made optional, or they adopt a “religious studies” approach that presents Catholicism within the broader context of world religions. In these schools the number of shared, faith-based events (e.g., Mass, Confession, and retreats) may be reduced or also made optional. 

Admittedly, these efforts are likely to minimize the discomfort a non-Catholic might feel from certain aspects of a Catholic school experience. It makes sense that such actions would reduce the times when a student might confront concepts she does not understand, be invited to consider traditions that are different than her own, and be required to attend rituals in which she is unable to fully participate. Although the intentions behind these “neutralizing” actions might be considered good, their effect is not neutral and can be harmful.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor's Reflections: Kerygmatic Catechesis and the New Directory
By Dr. James Pauley
Free The much-anticipated Directory for Catechesis is finally here! So many of us involved in the work of catechetical renewal have eagerly awaited its publication. This directory is the third of its kind, following 1971 and 1997 directories that each proposed a vision for catechesis intended to prepare Catholics to live in the modern world as well-... Read more
An Invitation to a Faithful, Dynamic Renewal of Catechesis
By Jem Sullivan
Free This article explores c hapters 1-2 of the new Directory for Catechesis. The publication of a Directory for Catechesis by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization could not have arrived at a more providential moment as the universal Church seeks a renewal of Christian faith in local churches struggling through the effects... Read more
Becoming Windows for the Light of the Living God
By Brad Bursa
This article explores chapters 3-4 of the Directory for Catechesis. O ne could liken c hapters t hree (The Catechist) and f our (The Formation of Catechists) of the new Directory for Catechesis to a meditation on windows and how they are made. Identity and Vocation of the Catechist In the early Church, those who followed the Way were often called... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now