Religious Literacy & Practice
Evangelisation is crucial, but not enough. Faith, like a seed newly planted in the soil of the human heart, needs water and light. That is why our schools must deepen and instruct the faith once received. We call this catechesis or religious instruction. Faith must also be supported by the religious culture of the school so that it will be practised in worship, vocation and action in the world.
It is sometimes observed that many young people emerge from our schools with insufficient knowledge of the Catholic faith or interest in practising it. Of course seeds of faith may have been planted that will only show forth fruit later in their lives. Nor is this solely the responsibility of the school: society, parishes, families and the young themselves also bear the burden of this trend. The Catholic school is well placed, however, to support young people, teachers and families to grow in their knowledge and love for the Catholic tradition. As some teachers have received limited faith formation themselves, they need particular support and professional development. We commit our Catholic Education Offices and parishes to providing this where possible.
Young people in our schools and their families deserve no less than the fullness of “the faith that comes to us from the apostles”. (Eucharistic Prayer I) Therefore enthusiasm for social justice, ecology, the charism of the founder or some particular school initiative must always be situated within the broader context of Catholic faith and morals. It must never eclipse the building of a relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church. No student should leave our Catholic schools without knowing the essentials of Catholic teaching as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, and all catechetical programs and RE texts should build upon these.
If Catholic schools are to succeed in passing on the Catholic faith to the next generation:
- schools will have as their goal the formation of Christian disciples, with appropriate world view, character and behaviour
- RE curriculum, methodologies, texts and other resources will be chosen to ensure that by the end of their schooling students know the core teachings of our faith, our Scriptures, history and tradition (‘Catholic religious literacy’) and how these are to be lived in the world
- in particular, students will be brought to a knowledge and, as far as possible, love of the person, life and teachings of Christ and of the Trinitarian God of Love
- students will also be brought to a knowledge and love of the People of God, the Church, who join them in their pilgrimage through life and support them through the Word of God and the Sacraments
- students will be prepared for the challenges to their faith that may come while still at school or after they have left school
- RE classes will therefore be given priority with regard to the school curriculum, time and space allocation and the choice and recognition of staff
- there will be demonstrations of Catholic religious literacy through appropriate assessment and religious activities
- our schools will also seek to involve parents and families in the process of evangelising and catechising their children, seeking in the process also to educate those families in the faith
Taken from Catholic Schools at a Crossroads