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Schools and an authentic Church

Opinion

To be authentic Church, the Christian community must exercise and live the corporal works of mercy. The care of the young is an integral work of mercy, a sign of the Church being Church.

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Those who care for the young, whether it be in the classroom or the office or front desk or grounds of the school, or engaged with the youth and young families of the parish, are privileged people.

There was a dispute among the disciples, so Jesus took a small child whom He placed in their midst, and said such is the Kingdom of Heaven.

In all the present turmoils of the Church our schools have never been so important – an outreach of 46,000 young souls. There is nothing to compare with it; schools and parishes are communities where lived charity, lived compassion, lived care for the least can be practised and seen and noted as the Church being still authentic in its mission.

Pope Francis said “no teacher is ever alone: they always share their work with other colleagues and the entire educational community to which they belong”.

The Pope also said, “Jesus began to preach the good news in the Galilee of the Gentiles, the crossroads for people of different races, cultures and religions. In some ways the context is similar to today’s world… we must meet the different ‘souls’ existing in a multicultural society”.

We usually thrill to the words of Irenaeus – “The glory of God is a man or woman fully alive”. So to be fully alive we have this challenge to live, to learn and to lead. Working with their parents, teachers set young lives on their courses of growth. Christ said, “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full”. People in education do not want their pupils to leave them as half-empty personalities, but rather as young people brimming with life in all its dimensions, physical and spiritual. At Cana the stone jars with their water, symbols of the new life, were filled to the brim. To be a complete human being, one must develop inwardly as well as outwardly. Not only physically but intellectually, emotionally, with powers of imagination and reflection – and with an interior life of faith and prayer, conscience and values.

We are conscious that in any Catholic school there is but one teacher, Christ Himself. Everything we do in our parishes and schools must be refracted through that image, the image of Christ the Teacher. Wherever Jesus went He changed people radically. The widow of Nain went from grief to joy; Zacchaeus the tax collector went from selfishness to service; Bartimaeus went from blindness to sight, from darkness to light, the lepers went from foulness to health; the paralytic went from crippled to dance; the thief on the cross went from despair to everlasting life.

And we know that in our schools and parish communities Christ has no voice but ours, no touch but ours; that is what we are called to be, Christ for others.

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