This insightful and inspiring work provides a roadmap for Catholic educators and parents seeking to reform and renew Catholic education by turning fully to the Church’s own understanding of education. The authors acknowledge the role that Catholic schools have played in American culture, as well as the dedicated and mission-driven religious and laity who have faithfully served them. Yet the book recognizes – as any honest supporter of Catholic education must – that the decades of decline in enrollment must be confronted and examined. The answer they propose is time-honored and truth-oriented: the whole-hearted return to a tradition of faith and reason, of wisdom and virtue.
Catholic education faces no greater challenge than putting the Catholic back in Catholic schools. Schools founded to evangelize and bring generations of children closer to God have been overcome by the massive tidal wave of secularism. Renewing Catholic Schools offers a clarion call to put God at the center of Catholic schools and help parents nurture the joyful gift of faith for their sons and daughters. The answer is recommitting our entire schools to God, not just tinkering with religion classes. This book offers the “why” and the “how.” Heed this advice. Nothing less than our faith, culture and salvation is resting on our response to this call to action.
A strong sense of integrity characterizes Renewing Catholic Schools, as evident from the authors’ “common vision” of the mission of the Catholic school that forms the heart of Catholic Identity. Solidly rooting the educational process in the rich heritage belonging to Catholic education, while realistically acknowledging the challenges and obstacles confronting education today, has a surprisingly encouraging effect. It gives hope that there is, indeed, a way of educating that goes beyond just providing information and leads to Truth and virtue. It transcends merely producing results and has as its purpose bearing fruit that will last. Renewing Catholic Schools, gives a model that can bring healing to the fragmented state of contemporary curriculum and contribute to the synthesis of faith, culture and life that is the goal of Catholic education.
About The Book
The book begins by situating Catholic education within the Church’s mission. Fidelity to Catholic mission and identity, including a commitment to the fullness of truth, provides the fundamental mark for the true success of Catholic education. The Catholic intellectual tradition, in particular, established by figures such as Augustine, Boethius, and Aquinas, can continue to direct Catholic schools, providing a depth of vision to overcome today’s educational crisis.
To transcend the now dominant secular model of education, Catholic schools can align their curriculum more closely to the Catholic tradition. One touchpoint comes from Archbishop Michael Miller’s The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools, which the book explores as a source for practical guidance. It also offers a Catholic vision for curriculum, examining the full range of subjects from gymnasium, the fine arts, the liberal arts, literature, history, and catechesis, all of which lead to a well-formed graduate, inspired by beauty, attuned to truth, and ordered toward the good.
Finally, the book provides a practical vision for renewing the school through the formation of teachers, creation of a school community, and by offering suggestions for implementation of a stronger Catholic mission and philosophy of education. The teacher, ultimately, should strive to teach like Jesus, while the community should joyfully embody the school’s mission, making it a lived reality. The book concludes with examples of Catholic schools that have successfully undergone renewal.
“A must read for pastors, educators, and parents! I read Renewing Catholic Schools in one sitting, drawn in by the passion and deep experience reflected in these essays. The take-away is compelling: renewing Catholic education is critical to renewing the Church—and there’s no time to lose. Inspirational and easy to read, the book beautifully conveys “the Catholic vision” at the heart of Catholic education, suggests concrete measures of Catholic identity, and provides examples of successful paths to renewal.”
Mary Rice Hasson, JD, Director of the Catholic Women’s Forum, Kate O’Beirne Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center
Sample from the Forward by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Archbishop of Denver
“I am greatly encouraged by the renewal underway in Catholic education and am grateful to groups such as the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education for their efforts to support it. The Institute’s work to form school leaders and teachers has borne much fruit, including in my own Archdiocese. I am happy to see the growth occurring in movements of renewal that embrace the Church’s mission to form disciples and to teach the liberal arts. I am confident that this book will serve as a helpful resource to Catholic schools, administrators, teachers, pastors, and parents and will enable more schools to undertake the work of renewal. By returning to the Catholic tradition of education, our schools will find a sure path for the future. Most importantly, they will become places to make saints, the true mission of Catholic schools.”
Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila, Archbishop of Denver
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