Enhancing Catholic School Identity
As a Catholic school in 21st century Australia, we are fortunate to have an incredibly rich history, dating back to the early 19th century. Catholic institutions have been intertwined with all levels of education in our country – and their current success as places of social transformation should be celebrated. We should also be conscious that they have not always got everything right! We are more aware now of the ways that an insular and hierarchical institution can impact negatively upon communities and young people.
As a growing College, we are fortunate to be in a position where we can begin to intentionally set our personal path as a Catholic school. If we were established in 1903 rather than 2003, we would have been established by parents and a heavily populated parish, with much of the resource coming from those two sources. Our students would be familiar with the Parish Priest and other clergy being present regularly in the school as teachers, mentors and leaders. The key role of the Catholic school at that time was to transmit and protect the faith at a time when to be Catholic was occasionally to be discriminated against. It was also to provide an education that enabled new immigrant Catholic families, many of them Irish, to achieve parity with an Anglo-dominated Australia. One needs to only look at our country today to see that these goals were met.
However, we are on a different wicket now. The Catholic church seeks a more outward looking, open and invitational relationship with not just its parishes but also the wider communities. The reduction in the number of priests, brothers and nuns has been keenly felt by our schools as lay people have filled the roles that were for a long time the exclusive preserve of the clergy. And, as the philosophies and outlook of the wider Catholic community have changed, so too has the Catholic school had to embrace change.
With these changes in mind, I would like to get your support in establishing a strategic pathway for our identity as a Catholic school. Our Catholic identity and distinctiveness must inform all we do. That said though, there is little point in that identity being codified and established without a full consultation with parents, staff and students. Indeed, a Catholic mission and identity that is not underpinned and fully informed by our community is likely doomed to fail. Our mission must reflect the faith life of our community.
To do this, I ask please that all parents complete the Enhancing Catholic School Identity survey that you will receive next week. It is not an ‘easy’ survey – some of the concepts are a bit intense – but getting a full picture of the community in this key area will enable us to plan, grow and flourish in a way that is not only sustainable but profitable.
The College group entry code is dR39fS.