Page 4, 20th November 1987

20th November 1987
Page 4
Page 4, 20th November 1987 — No ghetto mentality in Catholic schools

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No ghetto mentality in Catholic schools

IN case your readers get the impression from recent correspondence that all priests want to see the end of Catholic schools, I write to let you know there is an exception! I admit we are a poor parish. Our faith is weak; our morals and spirituality are in keeping with its weakness. We have many, very many, broken homes; in many streets single and unmarried parent families are in the majority. Our houses (those which have not been demolished) are amongst the cheapest in town; we share them with a high percentage of emigrants from faraway places. Our church is in poor repair and we cannot do anything about it because we are already deeply in debt; the Sunday Mass attendance is poor.

But we have a school. In days gone by it was attended by children, many of whom have done very well for themselves; they now live in nice areas and not all their children are in Catholic schools. Our school buildings have grown old. Still, the parents send their children to us because the school has a "good name".

I think this is because the teachers there love the children and understand them; come to think of it, I suppose many of the boys and girls receive the only love available to them from our school. I meet the children in the school and get to know them there; this is a great help when I visit their homes. I feel close to the children and they bring me closer to those at home. In my own tin-pot way I try to bring Jesus to them and I think the Catholic school is an integral part of this mission.

Of course it would be nice if all the children and their parents came to Mass every. Sunday; it would be so rewarding to see enduring happy marriages, full employment, good housing etc . . . I like to think I do my share towards these ends, but in the meanwhile my Faith tells me that Christ is present in our midst and we are trying to do his work with the aid of a school. Is this wrong?

A parish priest Name and address supplied IT WAS with great sadness that I read Fr James Hynes' recent viewpoint in which he calls for the closure of Catholic schools (October 19). I think that his conclusions were rather rash and made in a moment of anger. It was unfair of him to generalise from the example of one particular school and condemn the whole Catholic school system.

At our own school (where I am the Head of the RE Dept), during the past month, we had an average of 20 pupils attending our October devotions three times a week. We normally have between 60-70 attending our weekly voluntary mass.

I remember in the 1960s in America there was also a great deal of talk along similar lines (ie, Catholic schools are no longer needed, they create a ghetto, and so on), but they are still going strong today.

I don't think that we do ourselves or our young people any service by knocking our Catholic schools, most of which are doing a tremendous and much-needed work in the

Church. Dr YHR Seferta St Edmund Campion School Birmingham

THE National Service Committee for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal publishes a Directory of Prayer groups listing over 800. There must be other prayer groups which are not in the Charismatic Renewal.

Any group which meets regularly should seriously consider, if it has not done so already, how it can promote regular daily prayer in the family in its area in whatever way it can and in the way it has experience.

Few would dispute that the problem of Catholic schools is in large measure a reflection of the problem of the family; and the problems of the family today cannot be solved until family prayer each day becomes the norm.

Who is going to help families in restoring daily prayer if not those who meet regularly in groups? Prayer is only learnt by praying and from those who already pray. Each prayer group should consider itself as having a mission to spread the practice of daily prayer, and ecumenical groups should give special attention to families in which only one of the parents is a Catholic.

Our Lady has a special part in this work since she has become a focus for ecumenical dialogue. As a chaplain of an RC/Anglican school I have no problem with traditional hymns and the Hail Mary when the whole school are present.

Very few people maintain that they are confirmed atheists and therefore do not pray and cannot pray with Christians. But there are many whose faith in God and our total dependance on Him needs to be awakened. Such awakening if at all serious, must lead to prayer.

York Julian Rochford OSTS

THE correspondence so far about Catholic schools (October 30) is missing one crucial point: if more suitable qualified graduates who are also fully committed Catholics do not offer themselves as teachers in Catholic schools, the schools will soon fade away anyhow.

As the large Catholic comprehensive school in which I teach loses its older teachers, there seems to be desperate difficulty in finding adequate young Catholic replacements for them. At present only about half the staff are Catholics: the rest are caring conscientious teachers, but if they do not possess and show forth the Catholic faith, how can the school be fully Catholic?

Your August 7 "Youth View" called on young Catholics to consider in what jobs and careers they could most truly follow Christ. Teaching in a Catholic school today is precisely one of those jobs — under-valued by the world, physically and mentally exhausting, socially unrewarding, but potentially immensely satisfying and a powerful witness for Christ.

A final but not unimportant point: if Catholic schools ceased to be, when exactly would the proposed alternative catechesis be given? Has anyone tried asking teenagers if they would be willing to attend their parish churches for RE lessons at the weekend? I asked mine, and I'm sure you can guess the answer!

Bridget Krasinska Huddersfield

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