As a department, we share the school’s aim to be outstanding. All members of the department aim and work towards bringing Religious Education into the centre of the students’ lives both as an academic skill but also as an essential part of life. These reflect the school’s mission statement itself:
- To lead young people to faith in Christ and to mature understanding of the Catholic faith;
- To develop in its students inquiring minds through the study of a broad range of subjects and through the encouragement of self-discipline and hard work in the pursuit of excellence;
- To encourage young people to fully develop themselves intellectually, socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually through academic study and through participation in extracurricular activities.
As RE teachers, we are in a privileged position to share our faith and foster faith in young people. In his message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict XVI says educators must "be ready to give of themselves" in order to "lead young people to move beyond themselves and introducing them to reality, towards a fullness that leads to growth."1 It is our aim and duty to do this in such a way that the students engage, achieve and develop in their belief. This challenge falls to us as teachers in an academic and religious sense, as those who are true witnesses to Christ. For "real education is not possible without the light of truth"2 and as the Congregation for Catholic Education highlights in its document, Educating Together in Catholic Schools, this light is to be made brighter and the context made real by those in the position of educators rather than just teachers.
The Department shares the Aims of Religious Education as listed in the curriculum Directory:
- To present engagingly a comprehensive content which is the basis of knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith;
- To enable pupils continually to deepen their religious and theological understanding and be able to communicate this effectively;
- To present an authentic vision of the Church’s moral and social teaching so that pupils can make a critique of the underlying trends in contemporary culture and society;
- To raise pupils’ awareness of the faith and traditions of other religious communities in order to respect and understand them;
- To develop the critical faculties of pupils so that they can relate their Catholic faith to daily life;
- To stimulate pupils’ imagination and provoke a desire for personal meaning as revealed in the truth of the Catholic faith;
- To enable pupils to relate the knowledge gained through Religious Education to their understanding of other subjects in the curriculum;
- To bring clarity to the relationship between faith and life, and between faith and culture.
The outcome of excellent Religious Education is religiously literate and engaged young people who have the knowledge, understanding and skills – appropriate to their age and capacity – to reflect spiritually, and think ethically and theologically, and who are aware of the demands of religious commitment in everyday life.
Essentially it is our aim and duty to open up for the pupil the mystery of God’s saving action in Jesus Christ through our witness and in our teaching. To see ourselves, as mentioned above, as educators with a role not to "impart one's own doctrine, or that of some other teacher, but the teaching of Jesus Christ Himself."3 Furthermore, "the communication of truth, therefore, as a professional activity, is thus fundamentally transformed into a unique participation in the prophetic mission of Christ, carried on through one's teaching."4 Through our teaching and in our relationships with those within the school community, we endeavour to bring the light of Christ through communicating truth.
1 Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the celebration of World Peace Day 1st January 2012
2 Benedict XVI, Address to Rome’s Ecclesial Diocesan Convention on the Family and Christian Community (6th June 2005): AAS 97 (2005), 816.
3 Cardinal William Baum, ‘Lay Catholic in Schools: Witness to Faith’ October 15th 1982, (59)
4 Cardinal William Baum, ‘Lay Catholics in Schools: Witness to Faith’, October 15th 1982 (15-17)