Page 4, 6th February 1981

6th February 1981
Page 4
Page 4, 6th February 1981 — Schools policy re-examined

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Locations: York


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Schools policy re-examined

NOW THAT some kind of reorganisation is apparently to be forced on us by the Inner London Education Authority can we not make a virtue of necessity and take a fresh look at our schools' policy?

In an increasingly secular age it is not possible for the most excellent Catholic school to meet needs as it has done in the past.

A genuine. close-knit Catholic community is called for where adults as well as children can be taught their religion by experts, and where, in addition, they can find leisure activities and build friendships with other Catholics.

A community needs a community centre, and this could replace the comprehensive and secondary schools. (There would still be a place for a parish primary school).

Since the introduction of these schools, as well as the old-style grammar school, most children have to go such long distances from their homes that they cannot see school friends in the evenings, weekends and holidays.

So. unless they are very lucky. they have to join a peer group in the neighbourhood with totally secular values and life style — and these are the friends they keep when they leave school. And this is when many lapse.

Catholic schools have served us well in the past but it is absurd to think that any one solution to problems can. for all time, meet changing needs.

The Church would never have got off the ground if Catholic schools had been necessary. But what did prove to be essential to the first Christians was mutual support in a hedonistic and pagan environment, with priests, deacons and elders leading them in house Masses and instruction in small groups, so that they were learning and living their Faith as well.

For children to learn without being able to live their Faith is a nonsense.

The huge sums now spent on secondary schools could be put to better use by building and equipping first class parish community centres. With meeting rooms, canteen. youth centre, library, television lounge etc every need could be catered for and neither adults nor children would need to be coaxed in because it would all be happening there.

Full-time experts would be on hand to teach, give preparation for the Sacraments, instruct converts, and at the heart of all the activity there would be the parish Mass, A Canadian nun told me that soaring costs have forced the closure of Catholic secondary schools in her country. but that it has been a wonderful thing for evangelisation: priests and religious now go into State schools to teach Catholic children their religion, and inevitably they meet people who have never had contact with Catholics before, ' .

Bishop Konstant would be the ideal man to mastermind such a changeover here. Both adult religious education and evangelism are know to be close to his heart and he has a wide experience of the teaching of religion.

This is no time for timidity and half measures, so before the secular society swamps us, let us launch into parish renewal in this way with the same vigour that has brought to the building of schools.

Kathleen Rowland WITH REGARD to D. R. Boyce's remarks on my letter about Catholic Schools being opened to nonCatholics who are members of another Church community and suggesting that we open up the monastery here, we already do this for visitors of any church or no church.

His comparison is lacking in one important matter. The non-Catholic visitor cannot join the novitiate because this is a preparation for the taking of vows. I will agree that Catholic schools should only take catholic pupils when they take vows with their GCE and their CSE.

It might be rather an interesting experiment. Even in this rather unlikely event the school should still open itself to the non-Catholic visitor.

In practice joint schools follow certain general principles and these have been presented in the form of a report to the Hierarchy in the name of the Ecumenical Commission, the Department of Catechetics and the Working Party on Joint School (of which I was a member). Take heart, it is no sell-out, Paul Rochford OS14 Ampleforth Abbey, York.

CATHOLIC public schools belong to a bygone age. They do not • exist simply for the children of the military or diplomatic services — that is an excuse I have heard before, There could be homes run by religious for such children or there could be foster home placing.

Incidentally should such people have children if they are not prepared to keep them with themselves? understood that the difficulty of responsibility for children was a reason for celibacy of priests on the missions.

At these schools there cannot be "boys from all sorts of home backgrounds" because there are a great many homes which, if everything were sacrified, would never be able to afford to send their children.

Surely Catholics should concentrate on the provision and quality of local schools and teachers, and help towards the spiritual responsibility of our homes.

A poorer child is forced to live at a public school with a veneer of falsehood and inner embarrassment and worry about home. causing all sorts of complexes of inferiority and excessive ambition; not to mention the breaking up of a home weighed down by mistaken sacrifice.

School days should be rooted in home. taking part there in the joys and hardships, happy and free to learn in the focal environment and parish, facing reality without the dichotomy of a boarding school.

In their own time they will go out more honestly armed for life. Money. priests and qualified catechists could then be spread throughout all parishes. Monasteries perhaps could be open plates for higher learning.

I agree with Hilary Duncan, power and influence should be gained by merit not privilege.

Doreen Evered Goat It urst, or. Bridgwater.

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