Cardinal Brady launches Catholic Schools Week 2012 in Dundalk
Cardinal Brady launches Catholic Schools Week 2012 in Dundalk
Theme: ‘Christ’s Living Body Active in Our World’
Mr Con McKinley, Principal of Saint Mary’s College, Dundalk, today welcomed guests to the all-Ireland launch of Catholic Schools Week 2012. Saint Mary’s was founded by the Marist Fathers and is celebrating 150 years during the academic year 2011 – 2012. Speakers at the launch were Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, and Reverend Dr Ronald Nuzzi, a priest of the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, and director of the leadership programme for the Alliance for Catholic Education at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA, who delivered the keynote address.
At the launch Cardinal Brady said, “During Catholic Schools Week we celebrate the part played by Catholic schools in handing on the faith from one generation to the next. The Catholic school, as we know it here in Ireland, is a good example of co-operation between the parents, teachers and community. Yet we must beware of loading too much on to the schools. They are, after all, a help to parents.
“One of the key roles of the Board of a Catholic School is to preserve the religion and moral ethos of the school. I want to pay tribute to the work of those who serve on Boards of Management and, in Northern Ireland, on Boards of Governors. On the Boards of Management alone, in the primary sector in the South, there are 26,600 board members.
“Boards are exemplary models of subsidiarity at work in our parishes – they are expressions of local participative democracy in our educational system of which we should all be proud.”
Cardinal Brady continued, “Recent research among a broad sample of school boards revealed that 88% of respondents felt that their board was functioning effectively. This is good because it is accepted that there is a strong correlation between governance effectiveness and school effectiveness.” [see Cardinal Brady’s full address below]
Facilitating the open forum of the launch was the Director General of the Conference of Religious of Ireland, Sister Marianne O’Connor, who said: “On a day like today I am particularly conscious of the enormous contribution generations of religious sisters, brothers and priests – in partnership with lay teachers – have made to the education of children in the Catholic tradition.”
“While it is important to acknowledge the educational service offered by religious congregations in the past, I am glad today to be able to reaffirm our commitment to supporting Catholic education into the future, notwithstanding the radically changed landscape in the Ireland of the 21st century. On behalf of CORI I welcome the establishment of new forms of trusteeship for schools which will foster the Catholic education needs of children for generations to come,” said Sister O’Connor.
Delivering the keynote address Father Ron Nuzzi highlighted the topic of Catholic schools as Eucharistic communities, highlighting the central role of the Mass in the life of the Church and in the conduct of the school. Father Nuzzi stated that although there are many differences between Catholic schools in the United States and Catholic schools in Ireland, the shared faith of the Church provides much common ground for Catholic educational leaders, teachers, principals, parents, and bishops to work together to sustain, strengthen, and transform Catholic schools.
Building upon the insights of the Catholic theological tradition, Father Nuzzi proffered a theology of educational leadership and encouraged those present to open wide the doors of their hearts and homes, their schools and churches, to the presence of Christ. “Catholic schools are the best means of evangelization the Church has ever invented,” he stated. “It is no wonder that official church documents state that Catholic schools are at the heart of the Church.”
Notes for Editors
- Saint Mary’s College, Dundalk, Co Louth, is located in the Archdiocese of Armagh and is a Catholic co-educational secondary school located on an eleven acre site in the heart of Dundalk. Under the trusteeship of the Marist Fathers and guided by Mary’s vision of service, Saint Mary’s College caters for the educational welfare of over 640 students. Between full and part-time teachers, Saint Mary’s employs 46 teachers. In 1861 Saint Mary’s was the first English-language school established by the Marist Fathers to recruit English-speaking missionaries. Up to then all of the Marist schools were located in France.
- This year’s Catholic Schools Week takes place in Ireland, north and south, from 29 January to 4 February 2012 in the context of the Church’s preparation for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress which takes place in Dublin from 10 – 17 June next.
- Each day during Catholic Schools Week RTÉ Radio 1’s A Living Word will offer personal reflections on the value and experience of Catholic schools.
- At the conclusion of Catholic Schools Week on 5 February, RTÉ One television will broadcast Mass at 11.15am from Saint Patrick’s College, Thurles, Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, celebrant Father Tom Fogarty, President of the College. This Mass will celebrate the 175th anniversary of the college which developed into a major seminary in the 1860s.
- Catholic Schools Week is an opportunity to celebrate our Catholic schools as part of the Christian’s community’s effort to truly be Christ’s Body active in our world. The 2012 theme reflects the various ways that the characteristic spirit of the Catholic school enables and encourages pupils and staff to be agents for change, to live the Gospel and to be the body of Christ in our world.
- Resources: the Catholic Schools Week Steering Group has prepared resources for use in both primary and post primary during Catholic Schools Week 2012. These resources are available on www.catholicbishops.ie and can be used by: students in the classroom; staff members; parents; members of boards of management/governors; and, the wider parish community.
Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444
Launch of Catholic Schools Week 2012 – Address by Cardinal Seán Brady
In Saint Mary’s College, Dundalk – 26 January 2012
I am very happy to be here in Saint Mary’s College, Dundalk, to launch Catholic Schools Week 2012. A few months ago we gathered here in this great co-educational Marist Secondary School to celebrate another joyful occasion. We were celebrating the 150th anniversary of the foundation of Saint Mary’s in 1861. People came from the ends of the earth to join in these great celebrations.
Today this great school caters for the educational welfare of over 640 students. Thank you, Mr McGinley and your Board, for being host to this important occasion in the life of our Catholic schools throughout the country.
This year our launch of Catholic Schools Week 2012 is for the entire island of Ireland and so we have representatives here from North, South, East, and West. You are very welcome to the Archdiocese of Armagh for today’s launch.
Here today I wish to warmly acknowledge the representatives of the various bodies involved in Catholic education and members of the Oireachtas.
The theme for Catholic Schools Week 2012 is “Catholic Schools: Christ’s living body active in our world.” The theme is taken from the anthem of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, which takes place 10-17 June, Though We Are Many – (Bernard Sexton), and reflects the overall theme of the Eucharistic Congress – “The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another.”
This year Catholic Schools Week reflects on the school as a community having as its goal the full development of the pupil. Catholic schools consist of pupils, staff members, parents, school management and patrons. They form a vital part of the local community. The proverb says “it takes a whole village to rear a child” and in its own way each school mirrors the local community in its nurturing concern for its pupils.
The Catholic Church is committed to providing Catholic Schools to cater for the needs of parents who wish to exercise their constitutional right to the provision of faith education. Not unreasonably, I believe, the Church holds the view that the children of Catholic parents have first claim on admission to Catholic schools, just as Protestant children have first claim to admission to Protestant schools, and Muslim children have first claim to admission to Islamic schools and so on. Of course wherever possible – provided they have places and resources – Catholic schools welcome children of all faiths and none.
The format of the launch today has offered the welcome opportunity to witness and take part in a school community as it celebrates in prayer and liturgy its life and identity as a Catholic school. Thank you for this.
The theme speaks of Christ, alive and active in the world – especially in the schools. All schools are special places, places of great energy and great activity. They are very important places. They help parents carry out one of their most important roles – educating. The school, through the good offices of the teachers, helps parents to educate their children. Schools have a noble history.
The Catholic school, as we know it here in Ireland, is a good example of co-operation between the parents, teachers and community. Yet we must beware of loading too much on to the schools. They are, after all, a help to parents. Every element must play its part. There is the temptation to overload the school and overburden the teachers.
I want to pay tribute to the work of those who serve on Boards of Management and, in Northern Ireland, on Boards of Governors. They are members of the local community, they are volunteers. They offer their wisdom and life experience out of loyalty to the local community and out of their keen appreciation of the importance of a good school, for the sake of the pupils and of the community. On the Boards of Management alone, in the South, in the Primary Sector, there are some 26,600 board members. They represent parents, teachers, the local community and the Patron. The Patron is the representative of that section of the community that holds the school in trust for the sake of the community, not only the present community but the community of years to come.
These boards are exemplary models of subsidiarity at work in our parishes – they are expressions of local participative democracy in our educational system of which we should all be proud.
Boards of Management, Boards of Governors, these are the structures which have underpinned governance in the Irish education system for decades. They are made up of representatives of parents, the primary educators, the teachers, who provide help to parents in the task of education, the Patrons who also provide help of another kind and the community which has a vital interest in the education of its children. The parent, teacher, community and patron representatives usually live locally and commit voluntarily to this task. They do so out of a sense of responsibility, local pride and affection for the children of the area.
Recent research among a broad sample of School Boards revealed that 88% of respondents felt that their Board was functioning effectively. This is good because it is accepted that there is a strong correlation between governance effectiveness and school effectiveness.
It is generally accepted that the essential prerequisites for good governance include such elements as:
- working as a team;
- having a good relationship with the Principal;
- managing time and delegating effectively;
- knowing the school;
- working in partnership with staff;
- creating links between school and community.
Effective Boards demonstrate:
- a clear sense of common purpose; and
- a determination to respect others.
It is important to remember that the Board of Management acts on behalf of the Patrons according to the regulations of the Department. It operates as a corporate body. This means that it acts as one unit to do what it considers to be the right thing for all the children in the school.
Jesus was lost for three days. Where was he found? In the midst of teachers, asking them questions and listening to their answers. One of the key roles of the board of a Catholic school is to preserve the religion and moral ethos of the school. That means, among other things, that the pupils are given the opportunity, at every stage, to hear the voice of Jesus, to be enlightened by that voice and inspired by the compassionate love of Christ in their relationships.
Boards of Management and Boards of Governors are providers of an invaluable service to the community. My hope is that Catholic Schools Week will help the community to better appreciate the worth of that service.
I thank the outgoing boards for their generous giving of time to the noble enterprise of education and I commend those joining the new boards and wish them every blessing.
During this week we celebrate the part played by Catholic schools in handing on the faith from one generation to the next. To some that may appear as no big deal but to others it is quite something. Let me give you an example, if you visit Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, you should make sure you visit the beautiful Altar dedicated to Saint Brigid. If you do so you will see there the replica of the magnificent medieval doorway and Roman arch from the ruins of the Chapel of Saint Bernard at Old Mellifont, near Drogheda.
It was donated by a proud Louth man, Mr James Coleman in memory of his parents. Obviously a man of faith himself he appreciated the gift of his faith which he had received from his parents and he wanted to record that. I thought the image of the doorway is just perfect as an icon of this task, of handing on the faith.
Pope Benedict has called a Year of Faith to begin next October. He says that the doorway of faith is always open for us to go through so as to enter into friendship with God, the only friendship that can really satisfy the desires of our heart. We do that by having the Word of God revealed to us and allowing our hearts be changed by the power of Christ’s compassionate love.
Obviously when we celebrate Catholic Schools Week we celebrate all of that because we are a faith community. We consider the handing on of that faith as something essential to the well-being of those who come after us.
Of course the really big challenge that faces the Church today, not just in Ireland but in the Western world, is the question of faith. How do we pass on a faith that is deep enough to really change lives and to enliven a new announcing of the Good News, a faith that is strong enough to withstand the opposition it will meet and a faith that is informed enough to respond to objections?
The resources prepared by the Catholic Schools Week steering committee under the sponsorship of the Catholic Education Service will enable us to celebrate this week well and will ultimately help our schools be centres of excellent education and formation in faith for their pupils. The feedback from teachers and parents concerning these resources has been most positive and clearly reflects their very high quality.
Now we move to the keynote address by Father Ronald Nuzzi from the University of Notre Dame. Father Nuzzi will invite us to reflect on the Catholic School and to respond by sharing our own views as a result of what we hear and experience today.
Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444