REL and The Identity of the Catholic School for a Culture of Dialogue

Another fundamental element is the initial and permanent formation of teachers (#14).

The work around the identity of a Catholic school is complex as the qualifying word ‘Catholic’ suggests: a complex word that is not easily expressed by means of exclusively legal, formal and doctrinal criteria (#68). 

But the best place to work through this is at a local level where: solutions should be developed at the most immediate level possible, involving those who are directly a part of the local reality and know it in all its elements (#92) and …hasty statements on problems concerning Catholic identity do not help to resolve disputes. (#90). And what we share, the unity of lived faith based on the Gospel remains the guiding compass (#87), even in the most serious conflicts.

The Identity of the Catholic School for a Culture of Dialogue (ICS) itself provides guidance on this: Catholic identity should be a place of encounter, a tool promoting the convergence of ideas and actions. In this way, different perspectives become a resource and a foundational principle for the development of methodologies suitable to solve possible critical issues and find shared solutions (#84).

The whole school community is responsible for implementing the school’s Catholic educational project as an expression of its ecclesiality and its being a part of the community of the Church (#38).

Along with specific mention of the role of pupils (#41), parents (#42-4) and staff (#45-7), the responsibilities of school leadership: the Principal, as religious leader; the Parish Priest as custodian of mission and  Religious Education Leader (REL) are set out in the document: to collaborate with the entire school community and in close dialogue with the pastors of the Church. This in order to make explicit, along with the official educational project, the guidelines on the school’s educational mission (#49).

While the Principal establishes the culture in which everyone is aware of their: obligation to recognise, respect and bear witness to the Catholic identity of the school (#39), including the teaching staff, the non-teaching personnel and the pupils and their families., RELs could also be seen to have carriage over making the teaching staff explicitly aware of the fact, that in a Catholic school the service of the teacher is an ecclesiastical munus and office (#45) reflective of the teaching office of Jesus Christ. In “an atmosphere characterised by the search for truth,  …teachers of learning and of life, may be a reflection, albeit imperfect but still vivid, of the one Teacher” (TM, 14).

To that end please explore the series of resources around The Identity of the Catholic School for a Culture of Dialogue that begin a local conversation of dialogue and walking together (#82) and a “formation of the heart” ETCS #25).

Work here with staff should be seen within the framework of work with community formation


Resources for RELs & teachers

Video, Handouts and PowerPoints

ICS Chapter I ppt: Catholic schools in the mission of the Church
ICS Chapter II ppt: The actors responsible for promoting and verifying Catholic identity
ICS Chapter III ppt: Some critical aspects
Overview of chapter ppts
ICS: 10 take-a-ways ppt
ICS: 10 take-a-ways doc