THE first of my letters ever to be published in your paper referred to the fact that Catholic schools were established primarily to teach the Catholic faith to Catholic children.
It appealed to teachers in Catholic schools not to supplant my role as first educator of my children in their faith, but to help me in this task, for in the climate in which I lived I saw this as a task too great for me to accomplish alone.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since that day in the early 1980s. As I saw society along with the circumstances of my own life change, many letters to my parish council, to priests and to bishops followed begging for this same assistance.
My pleas and those of many others seemed to go unnoticed until today I stand alongside many other modern-day St Monica whose prayers and tears constantly ascend to heaven asking for the salvation of our children.
In years past I wondered just how much Catholic faith could be taught in Catholic schools when so few minutes were set aside each week to do so.
I wonder still today as I notice so few young people at Mass or see others cohabitating without any thought of the sacrament of matrimony.
With the opening of its new ecumenical school at Gaven on the Gold Coast (CL 3/6/01) it seems apparent that Brisbane Catholic Education has a new aim in establishing schools – not to help Catholic parents in teaching the Catholic faith but to bring Christian churches together.
This may be fine up to a point but how does this new school propose to teach religion? Will each child be taught its own faith by a teacher of that faith? Will each be given a smattering of all faiths (confusing, perhaps to primary school-aged children)? Or will there be ecumenical classes similar to those currently taught in state schools?
Has the wheel turned full circle with the establishment of ecumenical schools by Brisbane Catholic Education?
John Joseph Therry, first appointed Catholic chaplain in Australia, may well have looked down from heaven with delight on Sydney’s newly completed St Mary’s Cathedral recently.
However, would the smile on his face have quickly faded when he saw today, as he did in the early days of this nation, Catholic parents, many indeed living in difficult situations, without teachers to help them pass on their Catholic faith.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.