Monday, March 28, 2011

A "Divesting" Nightmare

"The Minister said he wanted to see at least half the schools currently under Church patronage move to an alternative guardianship." this is a quote from the Irish Times. I think the Minister for Education needs a new calculator! And what is the point of the "Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector", if the Minister has already decided on the numbers?

But just imagine the senario for a moment. Ruari Quinn gets his way and 50% of Catholic primary schools are no longer Catholic. The Minister says that this will happen by choice, this is something that parents must choose, there will be a process. Parents can make their choice and be happy, simple as that. But will it be so simple? How do we prevent a disaterous Irish solution? How many will want a non-Catholic school, but also First Holy Communion? Can we reconcile a rejection of Catholic education, with a seemingly contradictory demand for the sacraments? How many of those who opt out of Catholic education will seek/demand religious instruction, and sacramenetal preparation for their children?

In Drogheda we have one non-Catholic Gael Scoil, and  two "Educate Together" primary schools. All of these schools offer Catholic religious instruction for their Catholic students, in school, after school hours. (The laugh is, these children have probably received better sacramental preparation in their after school classes, than mine received in their Catholic school from I think lapsed Catholics! but that is another issue.)

This week my parish Church has three first confession nights, one for the parish girls school, one for the parish boys school, and another for children from other non Catholic primary schools. Will the Church be able to provide this service nationwide to the 50% of divested schools? Will our already over stretched clegy want to? This is going to be messy, and thats before we even look at the minefield of teachers. How do we get the Catholic teachers into the Catholic schools etc? Fun indeed!

On a brighter note, hopefully, the schools that we are "allowed to keep" will eventually become stronger Catholic schools.


James said...

Good post, Caroline, I agree with you. Personally I have no problem with giving half the schools to the state, the irony being that many parents at first will be delighted, but when these schools start to slip and the Catholic schools rise to the top, as they always do, our committed secularists will be clammering to get their children into the Catholic schools. At that stage we need strong bishops who will say to these secularists: "Sorry, no - only the children of practicing Catholics get into our schools", though I'm sure our government will ensure that cannot happen either. This could be a good thing if the Church in Ireland holds its nerve and makes a deal which is strong in its favour. The answer to your last question, will we be allowed to keep Catholic schools with Catholic teachers - that should be one of the unchangable conditions for the transfer of schools.

Caroline McCamley said...

Schools should be given to the state. I live in a large town, so I should be all right. I presume the state will allow us to keep a school or two!

But how will I get my children into a "Catholic" school?

Next year I will have 4 children in primary school. They will suffer in this social experiment!

But what about a small town that has only one school? What do the Catholics do if their Catholic school is voted out of existence?

brian said...

While I welcome your point of view,I would welcome how you can make the judgement on your childrens teachers.Have you spoken to them regarding their own faith journey or are you making sweeping assumptions

Caroline McCamley said...

I made the judgement on things they taught my children. Mostly they taught them nothing! Learning the reponses for Mass, and the words for A-Live-O songs is not enough when it comes to sacramental preparation. Would a practicing Catholic not do more?Mind you I could be wrong, maybe they are committed Catholics. I wonder what percentage of student teachers go to Sunday Mass? I did teach RE at second level for a few years. Many of those I qualified with, even some who were quite committed at the time, no longer practice!

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