By Cian Molloy - 05 February, 2018
Catholic education succeeds because it is catholic, open to all and not just a select group, said Bishop Fintan Monahan of Killaloe at a Mass marking the end of Catholic Schools Week 2018.
The theme for Catholic Schools Week this year was ‘Catholic Schools – a family of families’, which tied in with this year’s World Meeting of Families in Dublin in August.
In his homily, which was broadcast from the Cathedral of Ss Peter and Paul in Ennis by RTÉ Radio, Bishop Monahan said that during the week organisers had encouraged reflection on four Christian virtues: celebrating as family through hope, through faith, through love and through joy.
“In Ireland, we are fortunate to have been blessed with a love, passion and interest in education,” said the Bishop. “Going back to pagan times, to the time of the Celts, to the Ireland of the ‘Saints and Scholars’ and up to the present day. Irish people have a great interest, a passion and a talent for education. We are noted for bringing this love with us anywhere we go.
“We are so fortunate to have such a good education system and particularly a Catholic education system in Ireland. Much of that is due to the dedication and hard work of many selfless teachers, lay, clerical and religious along with generous communities who built up the school system to be what it is today. We give thanks to them and rejoice in their great work and the ongoing great work undertaken by so many in our schools today.”
In response to his own question, “Why has the Catholic education system been so successful and so good?” Bishop Monahan said: “Partly because it is just that – catholic. Catholic in the true sense of the word, for everyone, open to all and not just for a select group. Catholic education, being true to itself, is inclusive, outward looking, anxious and thoroughly excited to share the Good News with all and sundry!
“Catholic education takes a wider picture than just the material world and a focusing on personal achievements and goals. It explores the adventurous world of matters eternal and the hope of the afterlife to boot!”
After referencing today’s first reading, where Job is despondent and downcast because the world seems not to offer him the necessary hope and joy that he seeks, Bishop Monahan said: “Education with the enlightenment of faith raises us up and gives us that broader vision, a brighter vista to lengthen our horizons and give extra meaning.”
He said that we all face major challenges today, whether we are parents or young people: the intense pressure of the points race for places in third level education, the struggle with online bullying, substance abuse, the threat of suicide and the pressure to conform, to name just a few. Added to this, he said: “As has been so tragically realised earlier this week, we are seeing an ever diminishing value placed on human life itself with the proposal to eliminate the right to life for some.”
He said that Sunday’s Gospel tells us how to respond to these challenges: “As Catholics we have a God-given insight into the dignity and beauty of all Creation and especially of humans. We have an obligation to impart this, Saint Paul reminds us. In a school setting some understanding of what it is to be human is always being communicated.
“In a Catholic school we have the right and the responsibility to impart the Gospel vision. We do this with joy and delight and a sense of pride and privilege.
“As we conclude Catholic Schools Week for this year let us rejoice in joy at the good news of all that our Catholic education system has given us, and please God will continue to provide for many years to come. Amen!”