Bishops’ publish Pastoral Letter for Catholic Education

12 May 2008

12 May 2008

Bishops’ publish Pastoral Letter for Catholic Education

Bishop Leo O’Reilly, Chair of the Education Commission of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, today [12 May 2008] launches a pastoral letter to the media on behalf of the Irish Bishops’ Conference: Vision 08 – A Vision for Catholic Education in Ireland. The launch takes place at St Patrick’s National School in Drumcondra, Dublin.

The purpose of the media launch of Vision 08 is to:

  • raise awareness about the valuable contribution and unique character of Catholic schools in Irish society
  • invite the public to comment on the pastoral letter by email [email protected] or by post to: Pastoral Letter on Education, Irish Bishops’ Conference, Maynooth, Co Kildare “on the best way of ensuring that Catholic schools can develop in the coming decades”; and,
  • announce the establishment, by the Bishops’ Conference, in cooperation with religious trustees, of a national “Catholic Education Service”, for the whole of Ireland.

The Pastoral Letter opens with a number of relevant questions of a contemporary nature: Why Catholic schools in modern Ireland? What is the special character of such schools? How do they contribute to society and educational system of which they form such a significant part?

Launching the Pastoral Letter Bishop O’Reilly says, “The Catholic Church has a long history in education in Ireland and its contribution has been widely acknowledged. It also has a very coherent philosophy of education which has been expressed in many Vatican Documents over the past fifty years.” 

“Catholic schools are guided by a positive view of the person based on the teachings of Christ. Catholic schools help each student develop his or her potential as a human person. Our schools encourage students to look beyond the surface of things to find the face of God in ordinary human experience. The Catholic school is not just an organisation. It is a community. It is as members of communities that pupils grow to maturity. In addition, pupils are offered a rich history of learning and view of life. Knowledge and learning are key elements in Catholic education,” says Bishop O’Reilly.

Speaking at the launch of the Pastoral Letter, Sr Elizabeth Maxwell, President of the Conference of Religious in Ireland, says: “We the Religious of Ireland are committed to Catholic Schools. We are proud of our contribution to the education mission of the Church in Ireland over two hundred years. We have not withdrawn from Catholic education. On the contrary, we are anxious to contribute to the continuation of Catholic education in the tradition of our founders and foundresses into the future.”

“To ensure that this will happen Religious Congregations have devoted much energy over the past ten years to developing new models for the trusteeship of schools. Increasingly we have involved lay people in assuring the distinctive ethos of our schools into the future,” says Sr Maxwell.

Vision 08 – A Vision for Catholic Education in Ireland addresses the following themes: – Life Lived to the Full – Faith and Foundation – Religious Education and Prayer – Developing Human Persons – Education for Living – Education in a Time of Transition – Education for Excellence – Education and the Community – Parish Schools and the School as a Community Partnership – An Inclusive Community – The School and Society – A Catholic Education Service

Vision 08 – A Vision for Catholic Education in Ireland is being sent to interest groups in education including teacher unions, parent associations, patron bodies, trustee bodies, Boards of Management, policy makers, Oireachtas members and Members of the Legislative Assembly. The Pastoral is being translated in the Irish and Polish languages.


Notes for Editors

  • In attendance at today’s media launch: Bishop Willie Walsh, member of the Bishops’ Education Commission; Bishop Anthony Farquhar, member of the Bishops’ Department of Catholic Education and Formation; Sr Elizabeth Maxwell, President of CORI; and, Brother Kevin Mullan CFC, Provincial Leader of the Christian Brothers.
  • The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference has a membership of 33 bishops and represents the 26 dioceses on the island of Ireland.
  • The Pastoral Letter Vision 08 – A Vision for Catholic Education in Ireland, along with an executive summary of the pastoral and a leaflet version, are all now available on the homepage of the Bishops’ Conference website
  • Related press releases include: Catholic Bishops and Religious Leaders plan for future of education (7/02/05); Catholic Primary Schools: A Policy for Provision into the Future (2/10/07); and, Catholic Bishops’ commissioned survey: Factors Determining School Choice (8/04/08). ENDS

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