Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
September 16, 2002
Christ separates our schools
For the last 30 or 40 years-since the gradual disappearance of priests and sisters as teachers and administrators - Catholic schools have struggled to create and maintain a Catholic environment.
At first, the effort was uneven. Some lay teachers, for example, tended to see religion as an add-on to the more serious business of education. Gradually, however, progress was made and in the last several years, Catholic educators across Alberta have consistently striven to achieve what they call permeation - the Catholic faith should permeate every aspect of the school day.
If there's a glaring weakness in the system now, it would be that many Catholic families are not taking the faith as seriously as the Catholic schools to which they send their children.
Indeed, for Catholic education to work properly, it must take place from the womb to the tomb.
Educators, no matter how fervent, are hard-pressed to bring students to a faith-filled understanding of the world when the faith is not nurtured in the home.
Be that as it may, we need to strive to preserve and expand the Catholic environment of our schools. We need to insist - both to our school systems and to our government - that the Catholic faith is not just an aspect of education, but its very core. Undermine the faith environment and you are undermining education itself.
It appears that our provincial government has little or no understanding of this point which is of such paramount importance to the Catholic community. They have pushed the notion of Catholic and secular schools having "shared facilities" and are pressing that point hard.
In fact, the government is pressing the point so hard, the Alberta bishops have taken the unprecedented step of issuing a pastoral letter explaining the Catholic opposition to shared facilities (Pages 10-11).
In tackling this topic, the bishops endeavour to explode some of the myths about shared facilities:
The bishops emphasize that if the Catholic school community is strengthened then so is the broader society. Our goal is not to close in on ourselves, but to contribute as much as we can to the common good of society.
The government has become increasingly adamant in its insistence on shared school facilities. One result of this is that communities such as Hinton, where the Catholic high school has been run out of the local recreation centre for several years, are being denied their right to decent school facilities.
The government may believe that its insistence on shared facilities is somehow "innovative." The only innovation we see is a threat to Catholic education. Government ministers have several times espoused their commitment to Catholic education. Why then are they now so adamant about a practice which could lead to the assimilation of the Catholic school system into the secular system?
The province should back away from its insistence on shared facilities and build the new schools to which Catholics are entitled. Those are necessary steps to ensuring the religious liberty which is the hallmark of every free nation.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.