Catholic Identity & Life


The Catholic school is the principal educational arm of Catholic families, parishes and the wider Church for those generally aged under 18. It is there to assist parents and parishes in their educational, evangelical and catechetical mission, as well as to help the wider community in its educational and civic service.

It is for this reason that the Church remains committed to ensuring that there is a ‘critical mass’ of Catholic students in our schools, even though we also readily welcome students from other religious backgrounds. We exhort our school leaders to re-examine how they might maximise enrolment of Catholic students, including those from socio-economic bands and ethnic and special needs groups currently underrepresented in their schools.

Parish schools should continue to seek out and give preference to the children of their own parishioners, then to other Catholic children especially from the surrounding district, then to other Christian children, before offering any additional available places to children of other religious backgrounds. Regional secondary schools and Congregational schools should apply similar principles.

However, much more is required for a genuinely Catholic school than just a preponderance of students from Catholic families.

It is essential that:

  • leaders and staff understand, and are solidly committed to, the Catholic identity of the school
  • the Religious Education (RE) curriculum is sound, attractive and professionally taught by teachers with appropriate RE qualifications
  • other disciplines also consider the Catholic dimension of their subject areas
  • schools are Eucharistic communities within the parish context where, as far as possible, students regularly take part in Mass and Reconciliation
  • schools continue to be places of prayer, including prayer at assemblies, in classes and in other staff and student meetings, and places where practices are encouraged such as Scripture reflections, the Angelus, Eucharistic adoration and prayerful silences
  • schools are places cultivating a Catholic imagination, where prayer and liturgy are supported by a Catholic visual culture, including crucifixes and pictures of Our Lady and the saints
  • schools are connected to their local parish(es) and diocese, through inviting the periodic presence of the bishop, clergy, religious and parents in the school, and through active collaboration with the wider Catholic community
  • families and parishes support their schools in these important endeavours

Taken from Catholic Schools at a Crossroads

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