Thursday, 29 November 2007

Being Positive...

I've got a very critical streak in my nature. I also like to call a spade a shovel, and say it like I see it... which means that I can be somewhat lacking in tact. I have also been a little scathing towards one or two of our Bishops...

Being scathing towards the episcopate has an honourable history: St. Teresa of Avila and St. Catherine of Siena didn't exactly mince their words when they felt that their Lordships were lacking in backbone... but, alas, I am no saint, and perhaps I should moderate my tone... just a tad.

Because of my tendency to be critical, I was delighted to hear about the latest initiative from Lancashire. Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue has drawn up a plan to ensure that children at Catholic schools learn about Catholicism. He's drawn up a 68-page booklet to help headteachers in the diocese's schools and colleges. The document is called "Fit for Mission? Schools: See With His Eyes, Love With His Heart, Share In His Virtues." I was going to link to it, but the Diocesan Website doesn't seem to be working...

Initially, I was a little sceptical. Another booklet. A long one. With a long title. I felt a sense of déjà vu stealing over me. Been there. Read the books. Nothing happened.

However, the Diocesan Director of Education, Fr. Luiz Ruscillo, persuaded me that this was not just more of the same old stuff. He was very enthusiastic, and told me that, while the emphasis was on spirituality rather than academic targets, that spirituality was going to be firmly based on the Truths of the Catholic Faith. All Religious Education in Catholic Schools would be taught around the four pillars outlined in the Catechism: The Profession of Faith, Sacraments, The Moral Life and Prayer. The role of Foundation Governors was going to be more carefully defined. Headteachers and teachers would be expected to support the teachings of the Church. Whole-school Masses would be celebrated, at least two per term. Sex Education would be rooted entirely in Church teaching. Outside Agencies would not be able to promote any views contrary to Catholic doctrine. And there would be no truck with the Government's agenda of promoting homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle choice...

And just to make sure that the schools are doing more than just paying lip-service to that little lot, the Section 48 Inspections are being re-vamped so that they assess how well the schools address the new policy. Fr. Luiz, as Diocesan Director of Education, is in charge of Section 48 Inspections...

This is the best bit of news about Catholic Education that I've heard in a long time, and Bishop O'Donoghue is to be congratulated on taking this on.

...I wonder if they need Science teachers in Lancaster...?

8 comments:

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Wow! That sounds amazing...

Fr PF said...

The direct link on the home page doesn't seem to be working but by going to "Other Lancaster Sites" on the home page and then to "Education Service", you can find it at
http://www.lancasterrcdiocese.org.uk/
mission%20review/school-report.pdf

Mark said...

Gosh! I only had time to skim over what you've written, but this is fantastic news! Bravo, Eminence!

George said...

Is this true Mac? Or are you just sending us all into a Catholic Cloud 9 for a short while as we wait for 'the sting in the tail'.

Hopefully, it IS true,in which case the good Bishop is to be greatly thanked and encouraged in his mission. As a Foundation Governor myself I would welcome ANYTHING from my Diocese or anywhere else for that matter which would assist me in promoting the Catholic Faith in our schools. Far, far too much emphasis on the Faith being relegated to just another one of ten 'drudge and misery' GCSE's which have to be passed at all costs with an A-C grade - yada, yada, yada, yada government-education-department speak!

Can we PLEASE teach THE CATHOLIC FAITH in Catholic Schools seperately from the GCSE and other curricular studies. This single issue alone is I believe, massively responsible for dissenchanting our Catholic youngsters from their Faith. There simply is no time, as this is a curricular subject, to teach the kids about the wonders of our Faith, new and varied prayers, a deeper spirituality, the precious gifts of Our Lord's Body & Blood, The Real Presence, the lives of the Saints, vocations etc....

Mac McLernon said...

Mark - "Eminence" is the title given to Cardinals, not Bishops!

George - I kid you not... I heard this from Fr Luiz himself. He was positively hopping up and down with enthusiasm. And he had very similar views on the GCSE RE syllabus.

Unfortunately it isn't in our diocese... but it might catch on!

Mark said...

Mac, I remembered that afterwards (but couldn't remember the episcopal title), but I just knew you would catch me out on that one! ;-)

Mac McLernon said...

Fr PF - sorry, the link isn't to the schools' document just released... it's the document released in Lent of this year.

I'll put up the link to the document as soon as Fr Luiz sends it!

Anonymous said...

This is a most wonderful document and is a sign of hope for the future. Let us hope & pray that all the diocese of England & Wales accept & put this document into practice.Then we will have a genuine Catholic ethos in our schools. Of course, whether they can put it into action given the dissident state of the teaching fraternity remains to be seen. Bishop O'Donohue is to be commended for tackling this enormous problem.
If this was implemented in Liverpool we would not have the diabolical situation that exist's at St Cecelia's Primary school. Can we have Bishop O'Donohue transferred here please .........

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