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A Teachers Life for Me

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A Teachers Life for Me

We have in this diocese and indeed our parish celebrated education Sunday, and theĀ Catholic Education Service. So I thought it appropriate to submit this article which appeared in our last hard copy of the parish magazine on one of our parishioners call or if you like vocation into the world of teaching. In it he shares some thoughts and his experience so far.

 

 

A Wish come true I knew from a very young age that I wanted to teach Religious Education in a Catholic school and it came as no surprise, therefore, when I applied for my first teaching post in one of the leading Catholic secondary schools in Bristol. There were so many reasons for this, but one of the documents I drew great inspiration from was “Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Oceania” which highlighted to me the challenges of being a teacher but also reminded me of the role I play in being a witness to the success of Catholic education. The report states; “For the lay people involved, teaching is more than a profession: it is a vocation to form students a widespread and indispensable lay service in the Church. Teaching is always a challenge; but with the co-operation and encouragement of parents, Clergy and religious, the laity’s involvement in Catholic education is a precious service Of the Gospel, and a way of Christian sanctification for teacher and students. “The identity and success of Catholic education is linked inseparably to the witness of life given by teaching staff. Such is the role expectation of the school teacher in Catholic schools today.” Teaching in a Catholic school entails far more than simply the inculcation of Church teachings. It involves helping the students to grow towards a realisation of their reason for existence. In the words of the old catechism: “to know, love, and serve God in this life, and to be happy with Him forever in the next”. It may come as a surprise to many in knowing that students here at the school take a genuine interest in Religious Education. They ask deep and meaningful questions and are keen to explore the foundations of their faith. It is easy to see why. Today’s children are growing up in a world beset by problems, yet many have few opportunities to consider the big questions of life. They are under pressure to perform well at tests and targets in the school and are growing up in a world in which Church attendance is sadly on the decline but where a fear about terrorism in the headlines is on the increase. In such troubling times, RE can be the steadying influence pupils badly need. RE gives them quiet, space, the chance to be themselves, and the realisation that there is not always a right answer to things, those lots of people have come up with different answers to the same question. There are some students who are not religious but come armed with questions they need to know answers to, primarily through watching the news. Issues including abortion and euthanasia, genetic engineering, the problem of evil and suffering in the world. There are countless issues in the media today that makes RE even more relevant in these young people’s lives and it is our responsibility as teachers to make sure we address this. Not so long ago a Year 10 class of mine had the opportunity to consider the problem of evil with specific reference to the holocaust. If God is all loving (benevolent), why did he allow millions of people to perish, after all were the Jewish people not his chosen people, the one with whom God made a covenant with? If God is all powerful (omnipotent), why did did he not stop the holocaust? Why create a world with evil and suffering? In asking such thought provoking questions, the pupils are able to realise the relevance that RE has in school and in their lives. I am incredibly privileged to be teaching a subject I am passionate about and always recognise the need to make RE both an interesting and engaging subject. Fr Dennis Byrnes makes an important observation in the virtues of being a Catholic teacher; “Those involved in the teaching ministry need to demonstrate an intense love for truth. This means not only striving to master each subject to be taught, but to never hesitate in accepting a fact over a hypothesis when that fact contradicts one’s hypothesis. In short, teaching in a Catholic school is far more than a profession: it is truly a ministry – “A way of Christian sanctification for teacher and student”. Freidriech McCarthy

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