Perspective on the use of the construct ‘Catholic identity’ for Australian Catholic schooling
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Perspective on the use of the construct ‘Catholic identity’ for Australian Catholic schooling. Some sociological background to the interest in institutional religious identity:- What drives the interest in identity?

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Perspective on the use of the construct ‘Catholic identity’ for Australian Catholic schooling

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Perspective on the use of the construct catholic identity for australian catholic schooling

Perspective on the use of the construct ‘Catholic identity’ for Australian Catholic schooling

Some sociological background to the interest in institutional religious identity:-

What drives the interest in identity?

Examples of factors precipitating institutional identity anxiety. Some comments on implications for the discourse on Catholic school identity.

Signposting comments on the literature and practice related to Catholic identity of schools.

Some proposed ideas/themes that could be given more emphasis in the discourse on the Catholic identity of Catholic schools

The Enhancing Catholic School Identity Project

Summary conclusion

Final theological reflection: Identity issues in the New Testament communities and with the historical Jesus


Perspective on the use of the construct catholic identity for australian catholic schooling

Some sociological background to the interest in institutional religious identity:-

What drives the interest in identity?

Examples of factors precipitating institutional identity anxiety. Some comments on implications for the discourse on the Catholic identity of schools.

1. Times of crisis or institutional failure:2. A new or reconstituted institution:3. Change in institutional leadership:4. Challenging comparisons with other institutions:5. Image consciousness related to advertising:6. Confusing personal identity issues with institutional identity, and confusing expectations for different contexts:7. Creating executive coordinating positions to address identity related issues:


Perspective on the use of the construct catholic identity for australian catholic schooling

Arden School, Barker College Wahroonga, Loreto Normanhurst, Meriden Strathfield, Orange Grove public school; Pymble ladies College, Redlands school , St Catherine's School, St Scholastica's College Glebe, Waverley College.


Perspective on the use of the construct catholic identity for australian catholic schooling

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Perspective on the use of the construct catholic identity for australian catholic schooling

Comments on the literature and practice related to Catholic identity of schools: And a proposal of ideas / themes that could be given more emphasis in the discourse on the Catholic identity of schools

* Theological qualities of Catholicism* Distinctiveness and inclusiveness* Catholic curriculum and pedagogy* Key religious leadership roles in schools* Catholic educational leadership* Evangelisation (New evangelisation) and mission of the church* Responding to the challenge of secularisation* Distinctive religious charism* Liturgy and prayer

* Student response to institutional Catholic identity * Measuring and assessing Catholic identity


Perspective on the use of the construct catholic identity for australian catholic schooling

  • Some proposed ideas/themes that could be given more emphasis in the discourse on the Catholic identity of Catholic schools

  • Appraising the various components to the construct ‘Catholic identity’ of schools

  • Different aspects / components of the religious (Catholic) identity of a school; the various ways in which religion and the spiritual enter into the school’s operation

  • Personal identity development in relation to institutional identity

  • Institutional identity as a reference point for personal identity development

  • What it means to educate in identity

  • Catholic school identity related to the joint church-state partnership and contribution to the common good


Perspective on the use of the construct catholic identity for australian catholic schooling

The Enhancing Catholic School Identity Project

* Brief summary of the 3 scales for interpreting the profiles of thinking about Catholic identity

* General comment

* Lieven Boeve’s theology of interruption and re-contextualisation

* Re-contextualisation of Catholic identity: A process going back to Pope John XXIII.

* Re-contextualisation and the Lombaerts-Pollefeyt theory for classroom religious education


Perspective on the use of the construct catholic identity for australian catholic schooling

The re- contextualising agenda for the ECSIP

•Propose the faith to students and teachers who are unfamiliar with it, but nonetheless receptive for it.

•Promote transcendent belief and a Catholic faith identity.

•Offer resistance against relativism and secularisation.

•Take away suspicion, scepticism and fear.

•Give existing values and norms a religious foundation.

•Provide solidarity and community with their deeper religious meaning.

•Make a re-contextualised Christian belief meaningful and redeeming for today’s young generation.


Perspective on the use of the construct catholic identity for australian catholic schooling

  • Lieven Boeve’s theology of interruption and re-contextualisation

  • A radical change and interruption in the way communities hand on their meanings and identity to the next generations

    • De-traditionalisation

    • Individualisation

    • Pluralisation

  • A need for critical, evaluative dialogue with contemporary culture to forge new relationships with God and the culture. Proactive rather than defensive protection.

  • Re-contextualisation may require some courageous decisions about structures and approaches to understanding and living out Christianity

  • Given that the school is a civic educational institution for children and not an adult social justice agency, its structural response to re-contextualisation need to be appropriate to its natural, limited potentialities.


Perspective on the use of the construct catholic identity for australian catholic schooling

Re-contextualisation has a long history

“Today’s world, the needs made plain in the last fifty years, and a deeper understanding of doctrine have brought us to a new situation ... It is not that the Gospel has changed, it is that we have begun to understand it better. Those who have lived as long as I have ...were enabled to compare different cultures and traditions, and know that the moment has come to discern the signs of the times, to seize the opportunity and to look far ahead.” (Pope John XXIII, 1963).

“. . develop your culture with wisdom and prudence, retaining the freedom to criticise what may be called the ‘cultural industry’ remaining all the while deeply concerned with truth … faith will ask culture what values it promotes, what destiny it offers to life, what place it makes for the poor and the disinherited with whom the Son of Man is identified, how it conceives of sharing, forgiveness and love. “(Pope John Paul II, 1984 )

Responding to the signs of the times; Making Catholicism more relevant to the contemporary world; Critical dialogue between faith and culture (inculturaltion); Questing for social justice; Christian humanism and humanistic psychology; Addressing the real personal and spiritual needs of people; Christian praxis; Raising critical consciousness; Critical interpretation and evaluation of culture etc.


Perspective on the use of the construct catholic identity for australian catholic schooling

  • The Lombaerts – Pollefeyt theory for classroom religious education

  • Hermeneutics (Interpretation) and Religious Education“The art of interpreting the traces of communication is a specifically human quality. It is the alphabet of the human search for understanding the self, the interaction among people, the meaning of life and for establishing the truth. “

  • The hermeneutical communicative competence approach

  • An intimate, small group, psychological method;

  • Reviewing ‘hermeneutical knots’ or issues in the interpretation of meaning and purpose in life;

  • Applicability to public forum classrooms when studying religion with 25 or more students? Appropriate for small commitment groups.

  • Academic study or religion and spiritual/moral issues can be both personal and relevant with appropriate content and pedagogy.

  • Does the hermeneutic communicative approach lean a little too far in the direction of a psycho-therapeutic process.


Perspective on the use of the construct catholic identity for australian catholic schooling

Summary conclusion

1. Acknowledge the complexity of ‘Catholic identity’ by avoiding generic use of the term by itself and by specifying the component sub-identities that can more meaningfully be addressed.

2. Focusing on the relationships between personal identity development and institutional identity – cultural meanings as identity resources.

3. Focusing on what it means to educate in identity. Catholic school as an educational centre of Catholic culture that resources the spirituality and identity development of young people, both through and beyond Catholic religious heritage.

4. More attention to the basis for Catholic school identity in the joint partnership between Church, state and parents as semi-state schools with religious sponsorship. Giving attention to the contribution that Catholic schools make to the common good and to the education of Australian citizens.


Perspective on the use of the construct catholic identity for australian catholic schooling

Final theological reflection: Identity issues in the New Testament communities and with the historical Jesus

* Religious identity concerns for the early believers in Jesus as Christians gradually differentiated themselves from being a sect within Judaism.

The question: “Who is the true Israel?” was an institutional identity issue ever since. What constitutes authentic Catholic identity has to be reworked again and again in different times and different cultures in ways that are faithful to the New Testament vision.

* The historical Jesus studies and reconstruction what the historical Jesus was like, by contrast with the post-Easter Christ of faith.

Jesus was vitally concerned with the religious identity issues that marginalised the ‘little people’ of his time; and his provocative words and actions on these issues heightened the opposition to him that eventually led to his assassination .

What would he have thought about enhancing institutional religious identity. Probably “very little”.

He was more focused on mission than on institutional religious identity – more on what we do rather than what we look like.


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