Catholic Bishops and Religious Leaders plan for future of Education

07 Feb 2005





Today the Bishops and Leaders of Religious Congregations in their roles
as Trustees of Catholic schools met in St Patrick’s College Maynooth to
discuss the issue: “Catholic Education in Contemporary Ireland”. The
meeting was organised jointly by the Education Offices of the Irish
Episcopal Conference and the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI).
The meeting was attended by Archbishop Michael Miller of the Roman
Congregation for Catholic Education and Rev. Henry Lemoncelli of the
Roman Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies
of Apostolic Life.

Key issues central to the contemporary Catholic education system and the
challenges facing it were addressed. The Inter-Conference meeting afforded
Bishops and Congregational Leaders and other trustees the opportunity to
engage together with the current reality in Ireland, from the perspective
of Church, education, law, policy, theology, and trusteeship. Changes
in the culture, in society and in the Church – which have an impact on
education and on its profile – were analysed.

Addressing the audience Bishop Leo O’Reilly, Chairman of the Irish Bishops’
Commission for Education said: “Historically, the agenda for Catholic
education has been characterised by strong commitment to Christian values,
efficiency and quality service. Its achievements are evident. However,
current social circumstances are radically different and give rise to
new educational needs. The time has come in the light of current
circumstances to once again pro-actively reassert that agenda and to
develop a quality service appropriate to our time.

“The purpose of this inter-conference meeting is to enable all of us (the
Trustees of Catholic schools) to consider – in collaboration – our current
circumstances so that we can plan and develop policies guaranteeing the
future of our Catholic schools.

“Complacency is not an option”, the Bishop continued. “We must face head-on
today’s challenges to Catholic education. The tradition that brought us to
this point will not continue if we do not act responsibly. We must adapt
to the changing circumstances of modern Ireland. For this to work the full
involvement of the laity is vital.”

Sr. Mary Reynolds, RSM of the Mercy Central Leadership, in a paper on
trusteeship of Catholic schools, reminded Conference members that Religious
in their exploration of “New forms of Trusteeship” are not in the mindset
of “closing down” but rather of passing on something that they have pioneered
and developed. This time has great possibilities within it for empowerment
of laity, co-operation among religious congregations and collaboration with
Bishops, who hold ultimate responsibility for Catholic education. Current
circumstances also afford us the opportunity to re-vision and revitalise
the Catholic school and education within contemporary Irish society, as
a contribution to the common good in a new Ireland.

The meeting is part of a process that will, over the coming months, evaluate
the Catholic education system in terms of its characteristic spirit, commitment
to formation, academic achievement, trusteeship, inclusion, diversity as well
as other core elements.

Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)


Number and type of Catholic Schools in the Republic of Ireland.

Level No. of Schools
First Level 3,013
Primary Schools 2,913
Special Schools 100
Second Level 405
Secondary under Religious Trusteeship 350
Secondary under Diocesan Trusteeship 33
Secondary under Lay Trusteeship 22
Theology Centres 26
Teachers Training Institutes 7


RESEARCH and Development is also supported within networks and also
sponsored for particular projects.
Significant investment in Community and Second Chance education for
youth, early school leavers and adults in local areas and parishes –
this is often a joint initiative with teaching support from VEC and
social support from Departments of Social and Family Affairs and Health


Number and Type of Catholic Schools in Northern Ireland

Level No. of Schools
Nursery Schools 32
Primary Schools 413
Secondary Schools 77
Special Schools 2
Grammar Schools 33
Total 557