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A Return to Spirit and Heart: The Hope for “Catholic” Education Professor Thomas H. Groome What makes a school ‘Catholic’? Sydney Symposium, Oct 1st, 2002 AGENDA 11.00 Introductions and Welcome 11.15 Session One: What makes a school, 'Catholic?' 12.30 Lunch 1.15 Session One: Continued
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Sydney Symposium, Oct 1st, 2002
11.00 Introductions and Welcome
11.15 Session One: What makes a school, 'Catholic?'
1.15 Session One: Continued
2.30 Afternoon Tea
3.00 Session Two: Some reflections on shared Christian praxis in the changing Catholic school context.
Education to “engage and turn the soul” toward the true, good, and beautiful (Plato)
Education needs a spiritual grounding – beyond the technical, rational, pragmatic
To form character, nurture values, lend purpose, make and keep life human
Since the beginning—Mt 28--Catholic education grounded in spirituality
Done out of faith conviction and “for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51)
Spiritual grounding must reach beyond vowed religious to all Catholic educators
Catholicism is a spirituality; a God consciousness for engaging life; a “faith at work”
Can provide rich and life-giving foundations for any educator in home, school, parish
Evident in imagination about great questions of life; what is, could be, should be
The Spirit of Catholic education is God’s Holy Spirit working through our own spirits
Always “a work of salvation” (Clement of Alex. 200) and for the salvation of souls
Must engage our own souls and our students; informing, forming and transforming both
In what ways do you recognize your own “spirit” as engaged in your educating?
How do you recognize your school engaging the “souls” of its students?
Anything to develop or change about “engaging the soul” – yours or theirs?
“The heart” of Catholic education is the hearts of Catholic educators—own spirituality
To put “faith to work” throughout curriculum—what, how, why, and where we teach
Sustained by the deep waters of Catholic Christianity—streams that make the great river
Throughout history, and at its best, Catholic education has been Educating For Life
To have a life as well as well as make a living
Favoring and promoting fullness of life for all
Lending the resources and aptitude for life-long learning
For one’s own life, for life of others, for integrity of all creation
For here and hereafter – God’s reign of fullness of life “on earth as in heaven”
Opposing what destroys or diminishes; promoting what enhances and empowers life
“Glory of God is human person fully alive” (Irenaeus, 175)
Embracing education as a priestly and prophetic vocation—a calling from God!
Catholic? Used to have “real stuff” that symbolized our identity; Catholic brick a brac
So much swept away. None more significant than “fish on Friday”
Sends us back to the deep structures of Catholic faith
Much needed for pain and anger, shame and embarrassment of current scandals
Back to the foundations that should shape our imagination and spirituality
For Catholic educators, spirituality means allowing the core convictions of Catholic Christianity to permeate the whole curriculum and vocation.
Our “faith at work” in how, what, why, and where we teach. Especially in response to “great questions”
Some of your responses to “educating for life”? Thoughts or feelings; agree or disagree
What does “educating for life” ask of educators - teachers, parents, administrators?
No more foundational question than “Who do we think we are?”
Our understanding of the human condition—our own and that of our students
Who they are; their dispositions, potential, and limitations
Nothing more significant for teaching than our “operative anthropology”
Recall a time being educated when
a) you were treated like a “person.” Describe the experience, what it felt like, the wisdom from it?
b) When you were treated as less than a person. What did it feel like? The wisdom you might learn from it?
Person as essentially good and dignified
Though capable of sin, remains and grows in divine likeness
Person as partner with God and ever in need of God’s grace - a covenant
Person as able to improve our own and other people’s lives
Person as formed by relationships; a “person-in-community” (prosopon)
Person as partner with others,
co-responsible in community for the “common good”
Person with freedom, rights, and responsibilities for quality of life for all
Person with divine law written in our “nature”
Person made from Love, to love and be loved
Person with eternal destiny in God’s presence
Treat with respect and dignity; with a “realistic optimism”
Engage and nurture their souls; as active agents in the teaching/learning dynamic
Encourage relationships, partnership, collaboration
Celebrate and educate the whole person—to make a living and have a life
Create a challenging environment; nothing less for forming character
Appreciate all talents and gifts; encourage rights and responsibilities
Always hold out hope of becoming “fully alive to the glory of God”
Responses to such an anthropology and implications for education?
Agreements, reservations, additions
Decisions emerging for your own school? For your vocation as educator?
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you
And know that I will be with you always until the end of time” Mt. 28:18-20
To where: “every strata of society - transforming humanity from within” (EN 18)
With what: Good news of God’s “liberating salvation” (EN 9)
Discipleship - apprentices (mathetes) to Jesus in Christian community in midst of world. “A strong wind blowing . . tongues of fire . . . all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:1-4)
Encourage confidence in Holy Spirit - God’s life within
Rich faith worth sharing - bring to “fullness of life”
An old/new proposal: Total catechetical education is to inform, form, and transform communities and persons, in lived and living, whole and wholesome Christian faith
“Total Christian Faith” requires "total catechetical education”
Not "school" alone;
Not "family" alone;
Not lectionary alone;
Not catechumenate alone;
Not “curriculum” alone ;
Not catechists and religious educators alone;
Not any one thing or person alone!
a coalition of “parish” “family” and “school”
engaging all aspects of each,
for people from cradle to grave,
teaching and learning together - “sharing faith”
in “total” Christian faith
Every "parish" "family" and "school" must participate in mission and ministry of Church, and with "an education in faith consciousness"
Must ask of every activity, symbol, etc. - "what is this teaching?
Koinonia (community of Christian witness);
Kerygma (preach, teach, evangelize the word of God);
Leitourgia (as community to worship God);
Diakonia (care for personal & social welfare)
Witness - structure, ethos, participation, values?
Word - ready and direct access to Scripture and Tradition?
Worship - good liturgy nurtures faith, poor is dangerous!
Welfare - works of mercy and justice for faith formation?
"Family" - “sustaining networks of domestic life” - to be "domestic church" Family of:
Witness - through lifestyle to Christian values;
Word - to share faith around Scripture & Tradition;
Worship - liturgy of the home;
Welfare - place of love and justice, inward and outward.
Word - of scripture and tradition; clear focus of "school."
Witness - an ethos of Christian community & values;
Worship - opportunity for worship, prayer, spiritual life;
Welfare - works of mercy, justice, peace, as integral
Why not both as “catechetical education”
Hazard of religious education that does not teach to “learn from” and “for life”
Hazard of catechesis that does not inform thoroughly in the religious tradition
Two resources - “Life” and “Christian Faith”
Catechetical education - to correlate the two
A “conversation” between “Life” and “Faith”
“Bringing life to Faith and Faith to life”
Scriptures and Traditions - carried and guided by the Church
Approached as a treasury of “wisdom for life”
Taking from storeroom both “new and old” Mt 13: 52
Life - people’s own lives and engagement in social/political world
Why: God’s Spirit is ever present to us in “ordinary and everyday”
To be lived, Christian faith must engage people’s real lives
Focusing: Engage people with a real Life/Faith theme
M.1: Invite people to expression around the Theme
M.2: Encourage reflection and sharing together
M.3: Give Access to Story and Vision of Christian Faith as pertinent tothe theme, group, context
M.4: Encourage appropriation - making one's own
M.5: Invite to decision - to "Faith alive" and “for life”
Lonergan’s Dynamics of Cognition: a holistic and wisdom way of knowing.
Begins with attending to “the data” with “be attentive.”
Moves to understanding with “be intelligent.”
Reaches on to judging what is true or false, with “be reasonable”
Moves to deciding about the good, with “be responsible”
Turned people to look at their lives;
To see with a new perspective;
Taught Good News of God's Reign of life;
Encouraged disciples to make the Faith their own
Called them to decision to follow his "way" - of life and for life
©Luc Freymanc 2001/2 www.freymanc.com
See Educating for Life: A Spiritual Vision for Every Teacher and Parent, (Crossroads 2000) and
What Makes Us Catholic: Eight Gifts for Life (HarperCollins, 2002)