BY Peter Diamond | November 22 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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Our schools can be the ‘Light of the World’

Scottish Catholic Observer editor Peter Diamond reflects upon the values which pour out of Catholic schools in Scotland and around the globe

This year’s theme for Catholic Education week is ‘Promoting Gospel Values’ and you don’t have to look very far too see how our schools promote the values which shape Catholic classrooms across the country.

In my former school you had to look no further than the blazer or a badge to find the gospel message, which made our school unique in the image and likeness of God.

‘Lux Mundi’ is the motto of St Matthew’s Academy in Saltcoats and it was always made intrinsically clear that we as pupils had to be the ‘light of the world’ taken from Matthew’s famous Gospel passage.

Beacon on the hilltop

We had to be the beacon on the hilltop for all to see, witnessing to Jesus’ teachings through our everyday lives and works. Quite a challenge right? But ultimately one worth rising to.

Many Gospel messages can be found within our Catholic school motto’s up and down the country and it is why, like my former higher geography teacher suggested, we should take them for our own lives and allow them to help shape our own personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The hallmark of Catholic schools throughout the world is those Gospel values, which make our education system distinct from other schools.

Catholic schools offer a vision for education which is rooted in delivering more than ‘regular citizens’. The key for those attending Catholic schools is that they are tasked with taking that living message of Christ and the Gospel values out into the world in every sense; in homes, schools, parishes and the wider secular world.

Centenary

Last year Catholic education celebrated a milestone of 100 years since the 1918 Education Scotland Act, which saw Catholic schools move to state governance and offered a greater parity of access to education.

Since then our schools have flourished and remain steadfast in their origins, which were about lifting the poor out of poverty.

Usually Catholic Education Week takes place in January or February but from now on the celebratory week will take place in November bookending the Feast days of two of Scotland’s most cherished Saints Margaret and Andrew.

I imagine it will also serve as a terrific week for schools to bear witness to the Faith and renew their love for Christ and His message in preparation for the season of Advent.

Catholic ethos

When I was growing up education week would often be marked with a teacher, usually a senior one, from the school standing up to speak after Mass about the role of the Faith in our school and the ethos which ‘sets us apart from other schools.’

However, this week I have learned that in parishes in Glasgow’s East End, pupils from St Mungo’s Academy will provide the talks after Mass to mark education week.

The young people aged from S1-S6 will talk about what going to Catholic school means to them and will ‘evangelise’ about the Faith activism which takes place in their school, through pro life clubs and prayer groups.

Giving them the chance to speak in Church about the joy of their Faith under the guise of school pupils, may even promote within them a desire to live out a vocation for the Church, whether it be priesthood, religious, teacher or another.

Leadership

The reason to allow pupils to speak after Mass is part of an initiative within St Mungo’s to create and develop leadership skills across the school to help ‘build up the young people,’ which will help them to learn about serving others in a Christian environment.

The initiative may well be only starting in Glasgow’s East End but perhaps it is something which might well already be replicated in other parts of the country.

Celebrating our schools is something which each and every one of us should be able to participate in, let us hope that by sharing in their success this week, we can help to ‘Promote the Gospel Values’ which allow us to pour out the light of Christ to those around us.

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