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My deep gratitude for the editorial (February AD2000), "What is the purpose of Catholic schools?". The question has perplexed me for a long time along with the fact that nobody seems aghast at the fantasy aspects of what today is called Catholic education.
Undisputed statistics published regularly by Church authorities declare that 90 percent or more of children attending Catholic schools abandon their faith upon graduation. While we all know that Catholic parents must supplement religious instruction received at school, it is apparent that many of these parents are themselves the products of an inadequate Catholic education as their children have been.
The future prospects for a lively Catholic faith around the nation remain terribly bleak, a fact which should be very disturbing to those Church leaders charged with the responsibility to show the way to their flock, "to lead all souls to Heaven". But one hears of no cries of dismay or anguish being uttered from high places.
Perhaps it has been decided that nothing should or can be done at this late stage. Certainly lay-people can do nothing - except pray very earnestly, particularly if the hierarchy were to urge a super effort of this type; but no such appeals are being heard.
In the past Catholic parents were made well aware of their solemn duty and obligation to send their children to Catholic schools. This direction was seldom questioned or ignored since everybody realised it was a pre-requisite for cultivating a normal, robust Catholic life-style.
Today, the routine of parents sending their children to Catholic schools remains embedded in our Catholic culture and largely goes unquestioned, with the assumption that children will be taught the essential basics of the Faith: "Why did God make them?", "What must they do to earn eternal salvation?", "What does God expect of them?", etc.
Are our children being tragically short-changed now? Are their teachers practising, dedicated Catholics? How concerned is the Catholic hierarchy about the present state of affairs, including the crisis of faith?
Ordinary lay-people are increasingly scandalised at the present scenario consisting among other things of apathetic and decreasing congregations and ever-dwindling vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Yet we remain ever hopeful there might be good things about to happen in this unpromising tide of events. We continue to hope and pray.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 17 No 3 (April 2004), p. 15
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