Students and teachers dressed up for the Centenary of Federation celebrations at Holy Spirit
Primary, North Ryde
By Lou Jacquet
Catholic schools are “important and life-giving” according to American Bishop Thomas Tobin of
In a recent letter entitled, Catholic Schools: A Commitment Renewed, he said Catholic schools not only teach the doctrine of the Church, but also build community and motivate young people
to serve others.
But, he said, “We need to be crystal clear about our identity, our mission as Catholic schools.
“We are not in the education business just to compete with other schools. The specific
purpose of Catholic schools is to hand on the faith, to teach more religion. If we ever lose sight of that mission, then our Catholic schools lose their reason for existence.”
However, Bishop Tobin said
Catholic schools would not survive and prosper by themselves, and that people were in danger of taking them for granted.
This was, in part, why he wrote the letter, said Bishop Tobin. But it is also “good to
step back once in a while and say publicly how good they (Catholic schools) are, how important a contribution they make”.
He also acknowledged some practical challenges faced by today’s Catholic schools,
including financial ones with teachers’ salaries not being as adequate as they should be.
The bishop said Catholics should be very grateful to the teachers “who make personal sacrifices for their
profession,” to parents who provide tuition and participate in fundraising activities, and to pastors and their parishioners who generously provide leadership and much needed funding to support Catholic schools.
He urged parents to consider the advantages of sending their children to Catholic schools, calling them “a most reliable partner in helping their children learn and practise the faith.”
He said home
schooling was also a legitimate option that deserved the recognition and support of the Church.
“The whole Church is blessed by Catholic education, as is the whole community. We can all point to something
positive in our lives that has come out of Catholic education,” concluded Bishop Tobin. CNS