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Ontario bishops commit to ‘renewing the promise’ of Catholic education

  • May 7, 2018
Catholic schools have a “unique opportunity” to guide young people through the social, ethical and economic challenges of today, Ontario’s bishops say in a pastoral letter for education.

The 24-page document, titled “Renewing the Promise,” was released May 7 and is the third pastoral letter on Catholic education from the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario. The first, “This Moment of Promise,” was released in 1989, followed by “Fulfilling the Promise” in 1993.

“Within the context of Catholic education, the promise is that this true encounter with Jesus can and does take place, each and every day, within our Catholic schools,” the bishops wrote. “Together, we commit to renew that promise as we work together to strengthen our Catholic schools as communities that exemplify, in word and in deed, the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

Using the story of Jesus walking and talking with his disciples on the road to Emmaus after the Resurrection, the bishops highlight a phrase from Pope Francis — “the art of accompaniment.”

“It is about taking the time to walk alongside one another, to listen and to teach, and in so doing, to transform. Our Catholic schools do this on a daily basis as they model the Emmaus experience.”

Schools, the bishops wrote, offer “the encouragement that comes from down that Jesus walks with us.”

“Jesus provides the model for how our schools and parish communities need to accompany students and families with great respect, patience and love, inviting all to deepen their understanding of Christ and His Church,” they wrote.

In the letter, the bishops offer specific guidance for each group of people essential to schools: students, parents, teachers and education workers, support staff, principals and vice principals, trustees, directors and supervisory officers, and clergy and pastoral teams.

“While the world may sometimes make you feel like you are not good enough, not wealthy enough, not attractive enough, or not special enough, Jesus knows you perfectly, and loves you without limits,” the bishops say in their reflection to students. “He is always at your side, encouraging you and helping you to be the best that you can be as you offer your service to the world as an instrument of peace and justice.”

The bishops described Catholic schools as “privileged places, together with the family and parish community, where our faith is handed on, and this can only succeed with the co-operation of all concerned.”

“Catholic education must remain committed to the essential work of forming leaders in our faith tradition for the future,” the bishops wrote.

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