SASKATOON — Jesus is described as a teacher 150 different times in Scripture and Catholic educators should take him as their model, says noted author Thomas Groome.
"When the risen Christ assembled the Christian community on a hillside in Galilee, the first and the last thing he said to them was: go teach, go educate. And so we've been doing that ever since."
In a talk to Catholic education leaders from across Saskatchewan, Groome recalled the long, rich tradition of Catholic education as a "work of salvation" in which the glory of God is seen when human beings are "fully alive" and reach their full potential in this world as well as the next.
He hearkened back to how the "Church nurtured the intellectual life of the western world" through monastic schools, cathedral schools and great universities.
He also recalled the contribution of women's religious orders in education over the centuries, asserting that Catholic education stands on "great shoulders."
"There is great wisdom that we can discern from this 2,000-year-tradition," Groome said in talks given Jan. 13-14.
Catholic educators should reclaim the Catholic tradition and make it their own, in order to offer the profound richness of this "living, vibrant source" to a new generation, he said.
"But we can't simply repeat the tradition. There is a sense in which it has to be renewed and reclaimed."
Groome, a professor of theology at Boston College, spoke at a seminar organized by the Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association (SCSBA).
He outlined the context and challenges of a secular age, characterized by "buffered individualism" in which each person tries to exist in their own little cocoon; "self-centred humanism" that denies a need for God and others; as well as "therapeutic deism" which presents a tame God who makes no demands.
In this context, Catholic education continues to offer a tradition grounded in profound wisdom, tapping into universal values that give meaning, direction and hope, he said.