Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

It is always worth reading the text of any of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s talks.  In spite of huge focus on the “strong forces” (which quickly became “dark forces”) phrase in his talk to the Knights of Columbanus, there was a huge amount to reflect on – and to act on in that talk.

Likewise in his recent address in the UK to the Oxford Newman Society.   The lecture gives us more insight into the Archbishop’s approach to the whole abuse scandal.   It also gives more insights into how the much spoken of renewal might take place.  In particular  I feel he really hits the nail on the head in his analysis of the roots of the crisis of faith in the Church here in Ireland.

And I wholeheartedly agree with his comments on the role of the parish in a new look Church:

A form of religious education which is separated from the parish or some other non-school faith community will almost inevitably cave in the day that school ends. Sacramental formation belongs within the Christian community which welcomes and supports each of us on our journey.   We need a more demanding catechesis, within a parish framework, for those who wish to come forward for admission to the sacraments.

This is something very close to my own heart – how can we expect people now or ever to stay close to a faith they know little about. I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to quote St Paul’s

but how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?

Take a few minutes to read the whole text – it’ll only take you about 10 minutes.

4 June 2010 | Address of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to the to Oxford University Newman Society.


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Just heard that Fr Kieran O’Reilly has been appointed as new bishop of Killaloe, replacing Bishop Willie Walsh. So of course I googled him – and I like what I see.  A missionary bishop – that sounds like exactly what Ireland might just need at the moment.

In fact the the list of skills he has sounds like a wish list you might write for a new bishop here. He has pastoral experience in various parts of Africa, has done academic studies in Sacred Scripture but has particular interest too in justice issues.  Very importantly, he has great leadership experience, having been twice elected Superior General of the Society of African Missions (SMA).  He’s also quite young, and having been out of Ireland for much of his ministry, will be able to bring much need fresh perspectives.  I like what he has to say about need for on-going theological training for priests and for others trying to bring the faith into the world. Here’s an example from the 2008 Synod of Bishops on the theme “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church”: Fr Kieran O’Carroll on Sacred Scripture in the Church.

But the thing I like most is that he is a missionary. That’s what we need here.

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The Labour Party’s Ivana Bacik sounded indignant this morning – she’d gone to her local Catholic school to suggest that they change to a non-denominational school, thus allowing Ivana to send her child there in good conscience. “They said their ethos was important to them, and that they want to hold on to it”, she complained on RTE Radio 1’s Morning Ireland.

Imagine going to your local GAA club and asking them to change to a basketball or soccer club because that’s the sport you want your child to play! The comparison is not ridiculous – the GAA has what it has today because they were supported by ordinary Irish people in blood, sweat, tears  – and money.  When demand for and interest in other sports began to grow, other groups of Irish people got together to build up alternative clubs etc to meet this need. And now our children and young people in most towns can choose between Gaelic, hurling, rugby, soccer and maybe even a few other options. If a child has a more minority interest, parents may have to travel a little bit to access the training and facilities. No-one is demanding the GAA get off the pitch; no-one is indignant at the position of strength of the GAA had as compared with other sports.

There is obviously a need now for a wider range of choice in Irish school. This need has arisen relatively quickly with rapid changes in society, in values and in demographics, and so there is a lag that needs to be addressed in the availability of diversity in education.  Groups of interested parents and educators are getting together to address this and things are changing. The Catholic Church itself has recognised this and offered to transfer patronage of some schools were the need arises – the key issue being parental choice.

However there should be an acknowledgement of why so many schools in Ireland are Catholic: because historically this is what the largely Catholic population wanted, and in many cases, still want. And because when Catholic children in Ireland were offered little or nothing by way of education, it was Catholic religious orders and the Catholic Church – priests and people – who stepped up to the plate.  We’ve heard the horrifying stories about those supposedly Catholic teachers who betrayed the principles under which these schools were set up, but the fact remains that a huge amount of good was done. You might even think a little bit of appreciation would be in order?

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