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‘Be good shepherds to the flock’, archbishop tells headteachers

Archbishop Leo Cushley addressed almost 80 headteachers at an Edinburgh Catholic education conference on May 22, explaining that the model for a good Catholic teacher is Jesus Christ. — By RYAN MCDOUGALL

“My dear headteachers, let me say it clearly,” he said. “Your role is unique in the local church. You are leaders. You are shepherds, sharing in the mission of the Good Shepherd Himself.

“Know always that I am personally very grateful for all that you do for our dear young people. And I look forward to continuing to build a close relationship [with you], as good shepherds and willing co-workers in the service of the young people placed in our care.”

The one-day conference, held in the centenary year of the 1918 Education Act (Scotland), saw headteachers from all across the country travel to Edinburgh.

Guest speakers included the archbishop, Barbara Coupar of the Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES) and Eileen Rafferty, who is set to take up the post of religious education advisor for St Andrews & Edinburgh Archdiocese, supporting a total of 80 schools.

The archbishop went on to explain how Catholic education is a ‘fundamental element’ in the mission of the Church, and how Catholic schools share the mission ‘to make Christ known to all peoples.’

The archbishop concluded, speaking to the teachers directly: “I know what it feels like, because I too have been called to be a shepherd. In fact, here we are today, talking as ‘shepherds to shepherds.’

“Not for nothing does St Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, list the vocation of ‘pastors and teachers’ in the same breath (Eph 4:11), because you and I have a similar mission, and therefore a similar responsibility.”

Before thanking the headteachers, he said: “Be assured today that I want to assist you as you feed and guide the most vulnerable lambs of Christ’s flock.

“And as we begin the next century of Catholic schooling, I invite you to work ever more closely with me and the archdiocesan schools team. I ask for your support and goodwill, and I undertake to do all I can to assist you in your vocation.”

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