The theme for Catholic Schools Week 2013 is: ‘Catholic Schools in the Community of Faith: Sharing the Good News’. Catholic Schools Week 2013 will be mindful of two major issues for the year 2013 (a) Year of Faith and (b) Share the Good News. The theme of CSW 2013 reflects both. CSW 2013 will begin on Sunday January 27 2013 and end on February 3 2013.
The Year of Faith, declared by Pope Benedict XVI, is an opportunity for Catholic schools to recommit themselves to strengthening and celebrating their Catholic identity.
The Year of Faith began on 11 October, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and will end on 24 November, 2013, the feast of Christ the King. This time will provide Catholics locally and throughout the world an opportunity to celebrate, deepen and share the richness of their Catholic faith.
CSW 2013 offers all associated with Catholic schools in Ireland the opportunity to reflect on the role and work of the school in the light of three rich resources for our faith namely: the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Share the Good News, the National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland.
Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that the Year of Faith is a time to ‘rediscover the joy of believing’. Share the Good News highlights the synergy between the aims of the of the Year of Faith and the day to day work of the Catholic School: ‘Catholic primary schools in the Republic and in Northern Ireland are required to follow a religious education and formation programme that fosters and deepens children’s Catholic faith.’ (#100 Share the Good News p. 14). The Directory comments further that ‘the local Catholic school, a constitutive part of the parish, contributes generously to the children’s faith development, seeking “to inculcate in pupils the qualities of personal integrity and moral courage which are marks of an authentic Christian personality”.’ (#91 Share the Good News p. 131)
During CSW 2013 Catholic schools are invited to celebrate and experience the joy and happiness of being part of a developing, loving and caring community. Share the Good News characterises ‘The ultimate aim of Catholic education …’ as ‘the full growth of the individual, a fully alive person for self and for others, in communion with Christ’. (#28 Share the Good News p. 44). It also points out that ‘it should be remembered that children can teach one another much, as they journey together in faith’ (#93 Share the Good News p. 134). In Catholic schools pupils are encouraged to grow in communion with Christ and with each other. Not alone as individuals but with the help of each other the school community achieves its goal: ‘the fully alive person for self and for others.’
The General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops in a briefing at the beginning of the Synod of Bishops which was held in Rome in the month of October 2012 said: ‘We will accompany this process with (1) prayer, with the (2) witness of Christian life and with the renewed dynamism in (3) confessing, in communion with the Holy Father Benedict XVI, Successor of St Peter the Apostle: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Mt 16:16)”.’ He thereby set three goals for the Year of Faith and for the celebration of CSW 2013.
CSW 2013 will firstly encourage schools to take time in prayer giving thanks for the gift of faith and praying for growth in faith. Secondly during the week schools will be encouraged to reflect on the witness of the Christian life that is available to us in the lives of those around us and in the lives of the saints that we celebrate during CSW 2013 (Monday 28 January – St. Thomas Aquinas, Thursday 31 January – St John Bosco, Friday 1 February- St Brigid). Finally we will be encouraged to look to Christ because faith has its starting and finishing points in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The launch of CSW2013 will take place in Roscommon on Monday 21 January 2013. The Catholic schools of the town will come together to celebrate in prayer and reflection as the Catholic community in Ireland look forward to Catholic Schools Week which will begin the following Sunday. Resources have been prepared to assist schools, homes, Boards of Management and parishes celebrate the crucial work of nurturing the faith of pupils in Catholic schools especially during the Year of Faith.
An important element of the CSW 2013 will be prayer time at liturgy and in quiet times of reflection. Resources have been prepared to encourage pupils to appreciate the witness of Grandparents to the faith and the witness of the saints whose feasts are celebrated during the week. Pupils will be called again to look to Christ as the pattern of life for all who calle themselves Christian and Catholic.