Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 25, 2002
Catholic schools offer Christ as the model to its students
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The Catholic school, with Christ as a model, is a place for the integral education of the human person, says the bishop of St. Paul.
And the Catholic school trustee, as custodian of this "unbelievable treasure," must ensure that the mission of the Catholic school is never compromised, says Bishop Luc Buchard.
"The excellence of Catholic education must never be put in jeopardy when the Catholic school is entrusted to the Catholic trustee."
Buchard, who became bishop of St. Paul just a year ago, was the guest speaker at the annual meeting of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association Nov. 15-17. More than 180 trustees and superintendents from 16 Catholic school boards across the province attended the event at the Westin Hotel.
Bouchard said, "Christ is the foundation of the whole educational enterprise in a Catholic school. Because Christ gives meaning to human life, he is the model which the Catholic school offers to its pupils."
The Catholic school, Bouchard noted, is committed to the development of the whole human person - mind, body and soul.
The bishop lamented the secular tendency to reduce education to purely technical and practical aspects, devoid of any spiritual vision, which he said is reflected in banning all references to religion and faith. "The Catholic trustee must overcome the temptation of the claim to neutrality in education," he said.
"The excellence of the Catholic school is not only verified in the how of things, but in the why of things. The Incarnate Word has come to give meaning to all of creation. We are bound by God. Christ is at the centre.
"So the Catholic school must be related to the world of politics, economy, culture and society as a whole, but it is decidedly configured in the perspective of the Catholic faith."
This, of course, means that the Catholic school is not a ghetto. "On the contrary, it's open to all like Christ is open to all," he said. "Being Catholic is being universal."
He said Catholic schools must make a difference in the communities where they exist and reminded trustees "the excellence of a Catholic education can only contribute to the betterment of society."
Everyone has a role to play when it comes to education, according to Bouchard. The role of the state is to ensure that education is available to all as well as to "respect and defend" freedom of instruction, he said. "State monopoly in this area violates the fundamental right, which it ought to defend, especially the right of parents to provide religious education for their children."
The role of trustees is to safeguard the rights and identity of Catholic schools, he said, noting that a Catholic school is more than a religion class and religious symbols.
The bishop spoke briefly on some of the main actors in Catholic education, starting with the students. He used Jesus' words "What you have done to the least of mine, you have done to me" to remind trustees and educators that their main role is to serve the students, which he equated with serving Christ.
Parents have a particularly important part to play in the educating community because they have "the primary and natural responsibility" for their children's education, Bouchard said.
Teachers play a pivotal role in Catholic education, the bishop noted. "Teaching has an extraordinary moral depth and is one of man's most excellent and creative activities for the teacher does not write on inanimate material but on the very spirits of human beings."
We must support teachers with all our means, Bouchard told his audience.