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Guy Zangari: The essence of a Catholic School

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Based on a US faith rally model for primary students, students learned about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Based on a US faith rally model for primary students, students learned about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Catholic Education has a long-standing reputation within the community and in the faculty of education as a system of schools that produces results and well-rounded individuals post-graduation in Year 12.

Motivations to send children to Catholic schools varies from parent to parent and family to family—or does it?

The results in the 2022 HSC indicate that the system itself keeps value adding to the students that are educated with in it.

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Sound educational practices, modern state of the art facilities and first-class teachers are a major contributor to the overall success of students.

One cannot leave out the core ingredients to the academic success, students and their respective families.

“Before students attend Catholic schools their own journey is different to the student sitting next to them.”

It has long been known that the first educators of children are their parents and those that play a role in their upbringings.

In society today families are varied and do not necessarily fit into the category of: mum, dad, son, daughter and the dog and cat.

Families have different living arrangements and in some cases are multigenerational. Before students attend Catholic schools their own journey is different to the student sitting next to them.

So, whatever the living circumstances of the child, the Catholic school is the extension of the family unit and the place where students are loved, nurtured and cared for.

The Catholic school environment is intrinsically unique. It has within it a spiritual essence that contributes to the overall development of the child.

The new school brings together the families, school and parish communities of Our Lady of the Annunciation Pagewood and St Agnes’ Matraville. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
The new school brings together the families, school and parish communities of Our Lady of the Annunciation Pagewood and St Agnes’ Matraville. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

This intrinsic characteristic is the “total centrality of Jesus” in all learning, formal and informal.

Put simply an authentic Catholic School has the Sacred Heart of Jesus in all learning. This is what differentiates Catholic schools to others.

Although Catholic schools vary amongst each other, between those founded by the religious orders of priests, brothers, nuns and those set up by respective dioceses, they are all in unison when it comes to the delivery of quality Catholic education.

As I reflect on my time as a Catholic student, teacher, NSW parliamentarian and more importantly a parent of four children who attended, and currently attend, Catholic schools, Jesus has always been and continues to be the beacon for which Catholic schools exist.

Catholic schools provide to their students the lived experienced of the Lord Jesus Christ and it is through the Golden Rule of “love thy neighbour” that this can well and truly happen.

“PUT SIMPLY AN AUTHENTIC CATHOLIC SCHOOL HAS THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS IN ALL LEARNING. tHIS IS WHAT DIFFERENTIATES cATHOLIC SCHOOLS TO OTHERS”.

Every day in Catholic schools students pray daily prayers, attend liturgy, and participate in religious education classes.

However unless all within its confines practice what Jesus taught us, “love one another as I have loved you,” the Catholic school will cease to exist.

In the writings of St Paul he clearly indicates that one of the most important parts of being a follower of Christ is to have “faith in action.”

This embodies what Catholic schools are all about: the “faith” that Jesus died for us and the “action” that is done living out the teachings that Jesus taught us.

For Catholic schools to continue their success in educating the next generation of adults then it must continue to promote the centrality of Jesus and live out the Gospel every day.

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