Fit for Mission at New Malden

As I arrived at the seminar at Wonersh on Monday night, ready to mark exams the following day, I met two students who were returning from New Malden, clutching copies of Fit for Mission Schools.

A correspondent who was at the meeting sent me this account:
Fr Luiz gave a brilliant exposition of Bishop O’Donaghue’s document ‘Fit for Mission? – Schools’. Admitting that he himself had felt quite ‘challenged’ by the bishop’s call to all involved in Catholic education to go back and ask themselves ‘What are Catholic schools for?’, Father Luiz went on to outline the role of the Catholic school as it has presented by the Church’s teaching authority ever since Vatican Two.

Using both Vatican documents and those of our own Bishops’ Conference, he outlined the vision of Christ as Head of the whole Church, and of Catholic schools as particular communities within that Church. He explained that the model for a Catholic school should be the early Christian community as it is presented in Acts 2:42 - ‘United by the teaching of the Apostles, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers’. This short passage gives us the four ‘pillars’ of Catholic life in general and of the Catholic school in particular – the teaching of the Church, the moral life, sacraments and prayer.

As Fr Luiz pointed out, Bishop O’Donaghue has been quite specific in some of his guidelines – for example, requiring that a crucifix be on the wall of every class, that school Masses follow the pattern of the liturgical year and, of course, that sex education be taught entirely according to the doctrine of the Church, and respecting the role of parents as primary educators of their children. Precisely by being so specific, however, the bishop had done a great service to priests, teachers and governors, providing them all with a common framework within which to work.

The talk was very well received by the audience (which included, interestingly, many younger teachers – and several seminarians) who felt inspired to ‘rise to the challenge’ this new document has set before us.

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