Are Catholic schools mainly about God or values education? Challenges today.
Pro Deo or Pro Values - For God or Values?
The time is quickly approaching for Australian Catholic schools to decide on their main priority – are they here for God or just great values. Is the main principle to only be about great pastoral care, an already strong point within Catholic schools, or is God the primary reason?
There is a progressing move within Catholic schools to concentrate on meeting the children where they and their families are regarding their religiosity. For the great majority of families, the institutional religion is of minor consequence, if any.
Many parents see the Catholic school as a fantastic place for the genuine care of their children, where respect for the individual is high, where their children will get a good quality education and where the fees are reasonable. A good balance between public and private schools systems. But where is God in this senario?
A minority even see it as the choice for primary school, but not of real worth for secondary education. For these people, the private secondary schools meet their needs. A good number of these would prefer the old-school-tie and connection-building that occurs there.
The Answer for Catholic Schools?
I would argue that if the basic underlying essential belief and basis of Catholic schools is not PRO DEO -for GOD, then there is no authentic reason for the Catholic school to exist.There are many other schools, including many public schools, where a strong values-based education is already occurring and occurring well. To maintain the Catholic school, for this reason, would be unnecessary and against all traditional reasons for these schools.
There is no reason whatsoever for the Catholic school to be treated as a cheap, private school or a stepping stone to greater options outside the system. No place for cheap snobbery for those who see it as a better option to public schools but for no religious reason. Or for the snobs who prefer to keep their well-earned for other reasons and choose a Catholic school over a private school.
However, the only reason I believe which could be argued is valid to maintain the school as a values based school without Pro Deo, would be in the belief that the example set by the school could lead to people finding God and eventually coming back to, or to, the Church. However, for me this is really clutching at straws and really not attempting to legitimately justify its existence.
A Catholic school is not a Catholic school:
* Without PRO DEO – without being FOR GOD
* If the place of God and Catholicism is watered down or virtually ignored
If prayer and the sacraments are limited or lost.
©2017 Bryan Foster
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