Bishop Leo OReilly, Chair of the Education Commission of the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference, today [12 May 2008] launched a pastoral letter on behalf of the Irish Bishops Conference: Vision 08 A Vision for Catholic Education in Ireland.

Vision 08

The purpose of the media launch of Vision 08 is to:

  • raise awareness about the valuable contribution and unique character of Catholic schools in Irish society;
  • invite the public to comment on the pastoral letter by email info@catholiccommunications.ieThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or
    by post to: Pastoral Letter on Education, Irish Bishops Conference, Maynooth, Co Kildare:
    on the best way of ensuring that Catholic schools can develop in the coming decades;
  • announce the establishment, by the Bishops Conference, in cooperation with
    religious trustees, of a national Catholic Education Service, for the whole of Ireland.

The Pastoral Letter opens with a number of relevant questions of a contemporary nature:

Why Catholic schools in modern Ireland? What is the special character of such schools? How do they contribute to society and educational system of which they form such a significant part?

Launching the Pastoral Letter Bishop OReilly says, The Catholic Church has a long history in education in Ireland and its contribution has been widely acknowledged. It also has a very coherent philosophy of education which has been expressed in many Vatican Documents over the past fifty years.

Catholic schools are guided by a positive view of the person based on the teachings of Christ. Catholic schools help each student develop his or her potential as a human person. Our schools encourage students to look beyond the surface of things to find the face of God in ordinary human experience. The Catholic school is not just an organisation. It is a community. It is as members of communities that pupils grow to maturity. In addition, pupils are offered a rich history of learning and view of life. Knowledge and learning are key elements in Catholic education, says Bishop OReilly.

CORI – Conference of Religious in Ireland

Speaking at the launch of the Pastoral Letter, Sr Elizabeth Maxwell, President of the Conference of Religious in Ireland, says: We the Religious of Ireland are committed to Catholic Schools. We are proud of our contribution to the education mission of the Church in Ireland over two hundred years. We have not withdrawn from Catholic education. On the contrary, we are anxious to contribute to the continuation of Catholic education in the tradition of our founders and foundresses into the future.

To ensure that this will happen Religious Congregations have devoted much energy over the past ten years to developing new models for the trusteeship of schools. Increasingly we have involved lay people in assuring the distinctive ethos of our schools into the future, says Sr Maxwell.

Themes

Vision 08 A Vision for Catholic Education in Ireland addresses the following themes:

Life Lived to the Full – Faith and Foundation – Religious Education and Prayer – Developing Human Persons – Education for Living – Education in a Time of Transition – Education for Excellence – Education and the Community – Parish Schools and the School as a Community Partnership – An Inclusive Community – The School and Society – A Catholic Education Service

Distribution

Vision 08 A Vision for Catholic Education in Ireland is being sent to interest groups in education including teacher unions, parent associations, patron bodies, trustee bodies, Boards of Management, policy makers, Oireachtas members and Members of the Legislative Assembly.

The Pastoral is being translated in the Irish and Polish languages.