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Fixing the schools
I refer to Brother Barry Coldrey's article (May AD2000) and to the secularisation of our so-called Catholic schools.
Br Coldrey's definition of the 'new Catholics' summarises perfectly what my friends Blind Freddy and Snowy on the trams have been telling me for years.
Br Coldrey set out three preconditions that must exist before we can even start the process of change.
The first was, 'The Bishops need to issue a strong, confident statement on the purpose of Catholic schools and colleges'.
Even if this were possible it would only apply to diocesan schools. The bishops have little or no authority over many of the 'Order' schools, including Brother Coldrey's own Christian Brothers order.
The first precondition is really THE precondition since without it the second and third preconditions will not eventuate. No matter how efficacious the eight steps of the solution might be, they will be stillborn.
The reasons for this belief, while being in basic agreement with Br Coldrey's article, are set out below.
1. My children's generation who went to Catholic schools did not receive a Catholic education.
2. My grandchildren's generation who are going to Catholic schools are not receiving a Catholic education.
3. The number of religious teaching in Catholic schools is negligible.
4. Lay teachers in Catholic schools who are of my children's generation have not received a Catholic education and therefore are not equipped to provide a Catholic education for the students in their care.
5. Government financial aid has had strings attached.
6. There has been considerable pressure from society at large and some teachers within the Catholic system to push for the values of the post- modern, secular society.
7. Teachers who have a commitment to a truly Catholic education are pressured to conform or suffer the consequences. For some this means depression; others just leave.
8. There are very few male teachers in primary schools. Feminist thinking predominates.
9. Genuine Catholic parents who want a Catholic education for their children do not know how to measure the value of what is currently being offered as Catholic education, because they did not receive one themselves.
For these reasons and those listed in Br Coldrey's article, I do not believe that the existing Catholic schools and colleges can be fixed.
I do, however, believe that we can provide a truly Catholic education for those Catholics who seek it.
G. BRIAN BIBBY
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 20 No 7 (August 2007), p. 16
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