From the Director

On the Sunday of Catholic Education Week Fr Lawrie Moate, Parish Priest of St John’s Parish Glenorchy, invited me to speak on what makes our Catholic schools distinctive. This Sunday was a particularly fitting day to celebrate such an event as 16 August was also the 200th anniversary of the birth of St John Bosco, one of the great Catholic educators and writers of the 19th century.

I often get asked in my role, what differentiates Catholic schools from public schools and other independent schools. What makes our schools distinctive? I believe there are five key principles that make Catholic schools distinctive.

We offer Education in the Faith. The foundation cause and rationale for our work in Catholic schools is our duty to educate on the context of the Catholic faith.

With Christ as our cornerstone our schools and colleges are places of mission where we proclaim the message of the Gospel and witness to that message by our actions, sacraments, traditions, rituals and relationships.

We have a Preferential Treatment for the Poor. The ‘poor’ includes all aspects of poverty: economic, social, emotional and spiritual.

Catholic schools offer an Education based on the principles of Solidarity with, and Community of service to, society which juxtaposes the cult of individualism. Catholic schools need to be countercultural to individualism.

With Christ as our cornerstone our schools and colleges are places of mission where we proclaim the message of the Gospel and witness to that message by our actions, sacraments, traditions, rituals and relationships.

We offer an Education based on the principle of the Common Good. We promote the use of our skills, talents and expertise to enhance the common good.

We believe that Academic Education is a means to an end and not an end in itself. The acquisition of knowledge is not for material success but as a call to serve and to use your talents for the common good.

For more than 200 years, Catholic schools have been part of education in Australia. Over the past 25 years, Catholic school enrolments have risen by more than 30 per cent. In 2015, one in five students are educated in a Catholic school. Growth has been even more pronounced in the education of students with disability, Indigenous students and more recently students from war-torn parts of the world. These achievements are to be celebrated.

Two centuries ago, in the time of St John Bosco, the world was undergoing a significant transformation we now know as the Industrial Revolution. In his time St John Bosco planted seeds of integrity, care, compassion, kindness and happiness. St John Bosco particularly dedicated his life to the betterment and education of disadvantaged and marginalised youth.

Certainly St John Bosco’s call to outreach to the disadvantaged and marginalised is still our challenge in Catholic education in Australia, in Tasmania and in our local community. It is certainly the challenge that Pope Francis gives us in our respective roles in Catholic education.

 

j-mula

Yours in Hope

John Mula
Director of Catholic Education