Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 7, 2010
Today's Catholic trustees must ask the hard question
While most people who will run to serve as Catholic school trustees in the October municipal election have likely already made up their minds, it is still not too late for committed Catholic lay men and women to decide to run for a spot on their local school boards.
It is vitally important that leading Catholics who are committed to their faith and to bringing out the potential of schools come forward. We do not need people in this role who have axes to grind or who are focused on single issues.
What we do need are people of courage and charity who are unflinching in their determination to see that Catholic schools nurture the transcendent dimension of the human person. That obviously means, first, the students. But it must also mean teachers, administrators, staff and parents. The school is a community and it must be a Catholic community.
The 1977 Vatican statement, The Catholic School, put it well. It said, "The specific mission of the (Catholic) school is a critical, systematic transmission of culture in the light of faith and the bringing forth of the power of Christian virtue by the integration of culture with faith and of faith with living."
For this to happen in today's secular, almost anti-religious society, all those connected with the school must be on board, starting with the trustees. If the light at the top is dim, it is likely to be dark at the bottom.
That being said, the existence of a culture of faith in the school depends most greatly on the teachers and parents. If teachers and parents have no reverence for the Holy, it is guaranteed that students too will lack that fundamental quality. In fact, even if teachers and parents are strong Catholics, it is an uphill battle today to pass on the faith to children.
Trustees will need to ask hard questions about our Catholic school system. It should not be taken for granted that the Catholic school can fulfill its mission when significant numbers of students come from non-Catholic homes.
Trustees must ask seriously whether Catholic schools might better fulfill their mission if they were smaller, but more fervent. The dream of the Catholic school is much grander than providing bums for the seats, dollars for the coffers and jobs for as many teachers as possible.
Our Lord is not Alberta Education. The centre of the Catholic school is Jesus Christ. He is both the perfect teacher and the goal of our striving.
There is no well-worn path in the 21st century for "a critical, systematic transmission of culture in the light of faith and the bringing forth the power of Christian virtue." The task of the Catholic trustee is to find new paths for achieving those goals. It is a daunting task. But with God's help and leaders of courage and conviction, it can and will happen.
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