Archbishop Thomas Collins
OTTAWA — As Catholic schools across Canada face government pressure to adopt policies contrary to Church teaching, Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins urged Catholic school trustees not to compromise fidelity to the faith.
Speaking to the annual conference of the Canadian Catholic School Trustees’ Association (CCSTA) here Sept. 23, Collins exhorted everyone involved in Catholic education to become disciples of Jesus and to fully participate in the new evangelization.
Collins described the new evangelization as proclaiming the Word in places where the Gospel has been forgotten.
“We are marinated in secularism,” he said, urging those present to take a look at the working document for the upcoming Synod on the New Evangelization called by Pope Benedict.
“We need to maintain and strengthen the Catholic identity of our schools,” he said. Faith must not only be taught, it needs to be “caught.”
Faith must be modeled through the example of faithful witnesses, who not only offer a high-quality education, but also communities of Christian love, worship and integrity, he said.
He expressed hope that all involved in Catholic education would be “fervent Catholics,” “faithful disciples” of Christ and evangelizers willing to proclaim the Gospel.
“If not, why have Catholic schools?” he asked.
Collins called Catholic education a “treasure” but reminded the several hundred trustees from across Canada “nothing this side of paradise” is perfect.
While some might be over-enthusiastic, others blow concerns about the schools out of proportion. But people, he said, do need to pay attention to “hints of problems and difficulties” and answer the “worries” some face.
Collins said he has had parents tell him they are taking their children out of the Catholic schools because they don’t think the schools are Catholic enough. He tells them there are wonderful people in the Catholic schools and great students, and while the system is not perfect “we’re working on it.”
But the parents respond, “That’s fine, bishop, we wish you well, but our kids will be adults before you make a dent in it.”
He urged educators not to drift into the future, but to have a clear mission as people not only with questions but answers. “Jesus says I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”
We must come to Christ in prayer, he said. “We can’t give what we haven’t got,” he said.