THE Leader front page article (23/11/03) ‘Religion not a factor’ and the responses to it on 30/11/03 were of great value in highlighting concerns shared by many people in the Church.
However, there appeared to be the expectation that the schools should provide sufficient religious education to enable the purpose of the Church to be achieved.
The point that seems to be missed is that faith education at both primary and secondary school level is limited in its scope by the stage of psychological development of the students and the purpose of the Church can more fully be understood by people of adult maturity.
One of the purposes of the Church is to continue the mission of Jesus namely to make the Kingdom of God present in the world in which we live. To achieve this purpose requires faith development in people sufficient for them to be motivated to do God’s will and to desire to evangelise.
One of the challenges for the Church is to find a way of creating a desire in mature adults to continue their faith development past school level.
It is evident from the articles that parents send their children to the school at which they consider that their children will gain most benefit. They are interested in the welfare of their children. What the parents need is confidence that, while the Catholic school can provide a benefit for their children now, the Church is the instrument that can provide a benefit for them in their later life by creating a better world – a world in which the Kingdom of God is present.
The Catholic school, especially at the primary level, is the point at which the Church can re-make contact with many parents.
By inviting parents to have a conversation about faith, probably in a group discussion forum, parents can be helped to an adult understanding of what the Church is, how it originated, how it is empowered and what is its purpose.
It is also an opportunity for them to gain an adult understanding that Mass attendance is a means of obtaining empowerment in fulfilling their part in the mission of the Church.
So let us not expect too much of the school regarding faith education but rather welcome the fact that the Catholic school provides an opportunity for evangelisation and mission if we are prepared to grasp it.
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