Marie Gamboa asks, "If our ultimate aim is to get to Heaven and help others do the same, then why isn’t faith the true centre of everything at Catholic schools?" Pixabay

Speaking out: We need more Catholic teachers

By  Marie Gamboa, Speaking Out
  • May 25, 2018

I don’t go to a Catholic high school, but I have friends who do. Some of their stories suggest a failure in the Catholic education system that makes me feel relieved that I’m not their classmate. But I think if schools continue down this path, we are endangering the future of Catholic values in society, which is disheartening to me.

My friends used to ask me what it was like going to a Catholic elementary school. I remember being asked once if it was very “prayerful” and if the students were “holy.” I didn’t have to think before replying, “No, not really.”

I must admit that Catholic school boards make noteworthy efforts to promote Catholic values. For example, Catholic Education Week in Ontario focused on the theme “Renewing the Promise” this year. Boards also promote “Virtues of the Month” and dedicate each school year to Catholic themes. Many do even more and I respect them for it.

These all sound fine and dandy, except for the fact that not enough students really seem to care why these initiatives are undertaken. From what I hear, they are hardly explained to them. My sister complained that she didn’t even know what “promise” they were trying to “renew” during Catholic Education Week because her school didn’t specify, nor emphasize it.

So despite the school boards’ intentions, their efforts ultimately fall short because they are not passed down to the schools and the students properly. 

Back in the fall, while attending a Catholic high school open house, my mother asked the religion teacher if he saw students living out their faith daily. All he could say was that he wished he did. 

One of my other friends said on Ash Wednesday, homeroom teachers were reminded on the P.A. system to say a prayer after ashes were distributed. She was the only person in her class to line up for ashes, but more disturbingly, according to my friend, the teacher smirked at the end and asked sarcastically if anybody wanted to say a prayer. (They didn’t.)

Judged by what friends tell me, teachers are sometimes as unenthusiastic or detached from the faith as the students. All the Catholic values that school boards try to instil depend upon these significant people. Not all teachers, of course, are passive about encouraging the faith, but some are. And that is too many.

If our ultimate aim is to get to Heaven and help others do the same, then why isn’t faith the true centre of everything at Catholic schools? This goal, our purpose, has to be implemented by the teachers who shape a great deal of students’ foundations.

Jesus, our greatest teacher, leads us by example. In the same way, Catholic school teachers need to follow His example and set it for their students. In doing so, they could create a deeper meaning for Catholic education.

(Gamboa, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Markville Secondary School in Markham, Ont.)

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