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Thank you so much for printing the article titled "Latest Research on Catholic School Leavers". It confirmed for me the fears I have long held regarding the state of religious education in our Catholic schools. The conclusions I have reached upon reading this article are:
* The loss of two to three generations of children from our faith is a tragedy that urgently needs addressing.
* The structure of our Catholic Education system in many areas of Australia needs an immediate overhaul from primary institutions to university level.
* The people who are being trained to teach religion should be subject to greater scrutiny.
* That virtually nothing has been said or done about this situation over the past 20-30 years is one of the greatest problems bedevilling our Catholic education system. The silence has been deafening.
* A basic question: What is actually being taught or rather not being taught under the guise of religious education?
Lest I appear overly pessimistic about this situation, let me say that I have the greatest hope in our future. Our young people (thanks in part to John Paul II and World Youth Day) don't want to swallow this nonsense any more. They know they are being fed the crumbs from the table and have decided they want more.
I myself am a product of the limbo situation of Catholic education in place during the 1970s and 1980s in Australia. Thanks be to God my family was strong in the faith and I have received this legacy, "the pearl of great price".
This is no longer just a situation that requires "strategies" and "collaborations" to fix it. This is a great tragedy which cries out for appropriate action. I acknowledge this has begun in some parts of Australia, thanks to strong leadership.
Let us begin to teach, share, guide and lead our children to the authentic Catholic faith, the faith that so many died for and which contains so much richness: the Eucharist, our saints, our philosophy and our Church history.
For my part I have recently completed a BA and am now doing a Dip Ed, to be followed by - one hopes - some sound theology so that I can teach religion in the way it should be taught, in all its fullness.
I ask readers to do whatever they can in their sphere of life to challenge this current state of malaise in religious education, but at the very least to pray in earnest for change. Let us begin to take responsibility for the faith life of our children.
If we allow this state of neglect to persist we are guilty of silence and deserve to share in the blame for those that fall away.
God bless your work in spreading the glory of our faith,
SASKIA EBEJER (MRS)
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 19 No 3 (April 2006), p. 14
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