Thank you so much for the opportunity to chat about the documents on Catholic education from the Second Vatican Council and the Congregation for Catholic Education on the Catholic School Matters podcast. I enjoy a conversational forum to discuss the documents of the Church and hope that it will spark discussion at the national, diocesan and local school levels. Having a conversation about the importance and relevance of Church documents about Catholic education today is a vital part of our formation as Catholic educators. For those of us teaching and serving in Catholic schools, the documents provide an anchor, a compass and refreshment.
Gravissimum Educationis or The Declaration on Christian Education is a rich starting point for this discussion as it gives 12 digestible statements about education in general and Christian education in particular.
No less than other schools does the Catholic school pursue cultural goals and the human formation of youth. But its proper function is to create for the school community a special atmosphere animated by the Gospel spirit of freedom and charity, to help youth grow according to the new creatures they were made through baptism as they develop their own personalities, and finally to order the whole of human culture to the new of salvation so that the knowledge that he student gradually acquire of the world, life and man is illumined by faith. (GE, 8)
In addition to describing the core identity and mission of Catholic education, the document addresses relevant topics such as the critical roles of parents, the Church, and the state. It speaks about the unique role of Christian education in the formation of the human person. Introducing young people to the person of Jesus Christ in the setting of the Catholic school community provides a totally integrated approach to education as formation. The document speaks of the irreplaceable partnership with the Church community and families while recognizing the role of education in the common good. These are all very timely topics in education in our country and world.
Another critical aspect of Catholic education, in paragraph 8 the document holds up the vocation of the teacher. “Intimately linked in charity to one another and to their students and endowed with an apostolic spirit, may teachers by their life as much as by their instruction bear witness to Christ, the unique Teacher.” The importance of our teachers and their faith formation is critical to the success of the mission and purpose of our Catholic schools. The document raises all of this up for our consideration and continued discussion.
May these podcasts spark a robust and fruitful discussion about the importance of Catholic schools in the educational life of young people in the Church and in our country!