Tuesday, May 20, 2008

ACE Talk by Fr Luiz Ruscillo

Last night a couple of us travelled to New Malden to hear Fr Luiz speak about the Bishop of Lancaster's incredible report on the state of Catholic schools in this country.

He said the purpose of the report was to explain a line in one of his Pastoral Letters, 'Many schools are losing their Catholic identity'.

Fr Luiz then went on to explain the document by answering two questions:

1. What is a Catholic school for?

It is natural for the Church to provide education for Catholic children, they must learn what it is to be human in a Catholic context. Obviously parents are the primary educators of their children and as such must choose the best school to go into partnership with over the education of their children.
Education must explain the meaning of life through the meadium of every subject at school, as Fr Luiz said, learning that E=mc2 isn't enough, children need to learn philosophy, theology and other subjects to get a rounder perspective. All subjects need to be brought together with the faith so that Christ is seen as head of the school - the Incarnational Principle.

2. What are the values a Catholic school would want to promote?

Gospel Values ie the Beatitudes
This is done in four categories; Profession of Faith (Catechism), Sacraments, Morals and Prayer.
Education is Fides et Ratio we must show our children that faith does not mean leaving your brain at the door. Teaching the faith is not the same as evangelisation. The school itself evangelises by making Christ known to the children, Fr Luiz constantly made the comment that schools are part of the Body of Christ, but this does not mean they are parishes in themselves.
Pupils must also leanr and practice certain of the Sacraments of the Church and learn and regularly recite Catholic prayers such as the Rosary and devotions to Our Lady and the Saints.
When it comes to Morality in schools one thing they all have in common is that the are very good when it comes to justice, ecology and poverty but disastrous when it comes to personal morals, particularly Sex Education.

To certain questions put to him Fr Luiz said:

We need to reflect on what makes a school Catholic. Leadership is the key; a school must have Catholic governors and teachers who are dedicated to driving their school toward this vision.

Recruitment is difficult today for a number of reasons but the secret is the same as that for recruiting priests. We need to rediscover the secret of how to inspire teaching vocations in our children rather than look at the need to close schools.

Catholic Culture must come out in all areas of school life. It is vital that teachers be practicing Catholics so that they can bring the faith into their subject.

It is importnant that the Parish Priest is on the governing body of the school and not just a chaplain figure called in to say Mass from time to time. This will bring a close relationship between the school and the parish. No one can replace the Religious Sister or Priest working in the school. Chaplaincy is of prime importance to the life of the school as part of the Body of Christ.

Christian Catholicism must not be taught as one of many religions nor Christ as one of many religious founders.

To teach morals by debate and vote is OK to a certain extent, but it doesn't teach the children moral truth and values. It isn't enough to say 'The Church teaches such-and-such so we believe it', we must say, 'The Church teaches such-and-such and we hold it to be the truth!'

Much of this is obvious to some but it simply isn't being implemented in our schools. We must get this document circulated and implemented as soon as possible in order to save our children's education!


bernadette said...

Yes I agree. It`s a wonderful document. Does anyone know when it`s going to be implemented ?

Jackie Parkes said...

Just met Fr Luiz today...an amazing witness!