Bishop Leo O’Reilly, Chair of the Education Commission of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, on May 12, 2008, launched a pastoral letter on behalf of the Irish Bishops’ Conference: Vision 08 – A Vision for Catholic Education in Ireland. The launch took place at St Patrick’s National School in Drumcondra, Dublin.
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 O’Reilly said, “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,” said Bishop O’Reilly.
Speaking at the launch of the Pastoral Letter, Sr Elizabeth Maxwell, President of the Conference of Religious in Ireland, said: “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 We have not withdrawn from Catholic education.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,” said Sr Maxwell.