Do Our Schools have Mission Integrity ?

 

Do Our Catholic Schools Have Mission Integrity?: Part 1

by Prof Gerald Grace, of St Mary’s University Twickenham

  1. Introduction

I would like to begin this lecture by pointing out that the main question named for this presentation, necessarily provokes 3 subsidiary questions. These are:-

  1. What is the meaning of the concept of ‘Mission Integrity’ and of its opposite ‘Mission Drift’ and why is it important in the academic and research field known as Catholic Education Studies?
  2. Assuming for the present that it is important, how can we increase research which investigates the existence of ‘Mission Integrity’ or ‘Mission Drift’ in Catholic schools, nationally and internationally. On the latter point we must not focus only on ‘Our Catholic Schools’ as meaning those in the UK but rather our Catholic schools, meaning the 200,000 which exist internationally. We must, if we are Catholics always remember that we are part of an international Church (It was for this reason that I edited the first ever survey of research on Catholic education worldwide, reported in International Handbook of Catholic Education (2 vols) in 2007 and launched the first ever journal, International Studies in Catholic Education in 2009).
  3. However, it will be of interest to raise the question, ‘is the state of mission integrity of Catholic schools in the UK likely to be any different from those in other countries?

1  What is ‘Mission Integrity’ and its opposite ‘Mission Drift’?

We need to be clear about what we mean by ‘mission’.

  • Catholic education in its various forms of school, college, university and seminary is faced with the challenge of attempting to mediate to children, youth and adults some understanding of, and some engagement with the nature and the power of the sacred, which Emile Durkheim in his classic study, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912) defined as ‘superior in dignity and power to the elements of mundane life, to things ‘set apart’, to notions of the transcendent and divine, of souls and spirits and of the ultimate destiny of persons’ (p.422) – an inclusive definition which applies to all major religious groups.
  • For the Catholic Christian tradition this means in practice, engagement with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and of the saints, regular participation in the Holy Mass, understanding the spiritual and moral teachings of the Church and the study and practice of Catholic Social Teaching. Catholic education, in all its forms, is a mission (inspired by Jesus Christ to ‘Go and Teach all Nations’ (Mt. 28.19); the Catholic school is not just a social or economic enterprise, it has higher purposes which relate to the formation of good people, of good citizens and of good Christians. That is its ultimate mission – a mission of personal transformation.
  • Mission Integrity highlights a central concept in all my writing, research and conference presentations. Having always insisted that Catholic education is a mission and not just a social or business enterprise and having emphasised the importance of mission statements as a condensed form of the theology of Catholic schooling, the issue of the nature of mission integrity in our contemporary Catholic education naturally arose as a focus for research.
  • In 2002, I defined Mission Integrity as ‘fidelity in practice and not just in public rhetoric to the distinctive and authentic principles of Roman Catholic education’ (p498). In other words, all schools in a prospectus or other marketing literature proclaim to parents what the fundamental principles are which permeate and regulate their ethos and educational practice.

The research question here is, to what extent does their actual day-to-day practice articulate with these public principles? To the extent to which there is a high degree of articulation, then it may be said that such a school has high mission integrity. To the extent to which there is low articulation, then it may be said that a school is experiencing mission drift.

  • Mission drift may be defined as ‘an unintentional historical process which causes a school in its practices to move away from its foundational mission principles’. This ‘drift’ may be caused by many factors eg. weak mission leadership from headteachers and governors, changed expectations from parents and external pressures from government policies and agencies and the effects of local and national media publicity about educational ‘success’.
  • If mission drift in Catholic schools should be found to be happening on a large scale, then the claim by Catholics that their schools have a distinctive spiritual educational ethos can be questioned and, over time, they could become ‘integrated’ with secular state schooling systems.

Who has the authority to define mission integrity for Catholic schools? The Roman Catholic Church and the definition of Mission Integrity

  •  In 1977, the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education decided that the time had come to make an authoritative statement about ‘the distinctive and authentic principles’ which should characterise Catholic schools internationally. The document issued at the time, Simply called, The Catholic School can be regarded’ as the foundation charter and universal mission statement for Catholic schools’ (Grace 2016). It can be said that while certain local or situational adjustments may have to be made by schools in some locations (caused by cultural, ideological and economic circumstances) no school which claims the title ‘Catholic’ can be seriously at odds with the principles proclaimed by the Congregation in 1977.
  • The Catholic School (1977) document is therefore the authoritative guide for any research studies relating to mission integrity / mission drift.

PLEASE TURN TO PART 2 PAPER – click  here to read part 2

 REFERENCES

Durkheim, E. (1912/1971)             The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life London, Allen and Unwin.

 

Grace, G. (2002)                                ‘Mission Integrity: Contemporary Challenges for Catholic School Leaders’ in Second International Handbook of Educational Leadership and Administration: Part 1, Dordrecht, Kluwer Academic.

 

Grace, G. (2016)                                Endorsement for re-print of the Catholic School, London, CTS

Sacred Congregation for

Catholic Education (1977)            The Catholic School, Rome, Liberia Editrice Vaticana

 

 

2017 Catholic Young Writer Award

The 2017 CATHOLIC YOUNG WRITER AWARD

for all young Catholics of secondary school age in Britain

Every Catholic should attend Mass each Sunday.

Why?

– You will find some answers in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in the Bible.

– You will find some answers in the writings of men and women who have studied and taught about this, including Pope St John Paul the Great.

– You will find some answers in the lives – and deaths – of heroes and martyrs who grasped the essential point of it all.

In the 2017 CATHOLIC YOUNG WRITER project we invite you to study some of this and write an essay – maximum 4 sides of A4, handwritten or produced on a computer, answering the question “Why does a Catholic attend Mass each Sunday?”

This project is open to all Roman Catholics aged 11 to 18 years, and all pupils at Roman Catholic secondary schools in the United Kingdom.

Sources to consult:

Catechism of the Catholic Church, sections 2168-2195 – and look up some of the Biblical references given.

The Martyrs of Abitene, martyred in 303. Pope Benedict XVI spoke about them in May 2005: look up some relevant internet links.

Dies Domini, letter of Pope Saint John Paul the Great, 1998

NOTE TO TEACHERS:

This essay is designed to be part of a class effort, so ideally the essays should be gathered together and sent as a group…but individual pupils can send an essay alone if they wish.

EACH ENTRY must carry the PUPIL’S FULL NAME (including surname) and date of birth, all written legibly, and the FULL NAME AND POSTAL ADDRESS OF THE SCHOOL.

The winner of the best essay will win £50 cash plus book prizes, and the coveted Young Writer Shield, to be kept for one year. There will be a number of runner-up book prizes.

The judges will be looking for clear, sincere writing, with reasonable grammar and spelling, with a list of any books or websites consulted.

Entries should be posted to:

Catholic Young Writer Award 2017,
Catholic Union of Great Britain,
St Maximillian Kolbe House
63 Jeddo Road London W12 9EE

to arrive by May 30th 2017. We are unable to accept entries by email.

The Catholic Young Writer Award is sponsored by the Catholic Union Charitable Trust

Craigmyle lecture 2016

‘Christian Response to Refugees’ – Sarah Teather

On the 2nd of November 2016 a record number attended the lecture titled ‘Christian Response to Refugees’ kindly given by Sarah Teather former MP and Director of the JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service) at the University of Notre Dame, Suffolk Street. In what was an insightful talk, Sarah gave anecdotal evidence as to why the JRS’ work is so important and how it needs to continue and there was a clear feeling in the room of empathy as the audience listened to the hard truths and painful stories that were told.

However, it was not all bad, Sarah spoke at length about how the JRS has many success stories. Topics such as refugees finding work in this country and giving back wages to the JRS to support others were incredibly humbling and showed how great the work of the JRS is. Sarah also touched on biblical references to refugees or migrants throughout scripture. Abraham travelling in search of hope to escape famine and Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt in the wake of oppression can be duly linked to matters today as 13 million Syrians were forced to leave their homes under these almost similar circumstances. This reinforces the Church’s stance to act on behalf of these refugees and the others around the world that make up the devastating number of 65 million.

The plight of refugees all around the world was made unequivocally clear by Sarah who used concepts like the ‘collapse in hope,’ to describe the current situation and how ‘limbo becomes intolerable’ for these refugees as a different hardships rears its head at every turn. This really allowed the audience to connect with the message and through her own tales of walking across borders with these people, Sarah was able to deliver a clear and concise account of how the Church helps these refugees and how vital it is that their work continue.

2016 Catholic Young Writer Award

The Catholic Young Writer Award 2016
sponsored by the Catholic Union Charitable Trust
The winner of the 2016 Catholic Young Writer Award is Charlotte Watson of St Gregory’s Catholic High School, Warrington, and the winner of the second prize is Tom Lees of the London Oratory School.
Students at Catholic secondary schools across Britain were invited to write about a saint of the British Isles, and were given a selection from which to choose. Charlotte’s essay on St Thomas More, and Tom’s on St Edward the Confessor were deemed to be of a very high standard. Charlotte wins the coveted Young Writer Shield and a cash prize of £50, and both she and Tom receive a selection of books by Catholic authors.
Students from the following schools won book prizes:
Cardinal Newman School, Luton
St Mary’s Catholic High School, Astley, Manchester
Gumley House Convent School, Isleworth
Blessed William Howard High School, Stafford
St Mary’s School, Ascot
The London Oratory School
St Joseph’s Catholic High School, Horwich, Bolton
Oaklands Catholic School, Waterlooville, Hants
Blachelande College. Guernsey
St Anne’s Catholic High School, Southampton
St Gregory’s High School, Westbrook, Warrington
St Richard’s Catholic College, Southampton
The Award was initiated by The Keys, the Catholic Writers’ Guild of England and Wales, and as it grew larger it was taken on by the Catholic Union Charitable Trust. It now attracts large numbers of entries from Catholic schools across Britain. The winning entries, and a selection of the runners-up will be brought to the Annual Meeting of the Catholic Union in London.

Catholicism in the Secular World

Francis Campbell 308Lecture by Francis Campbell, Vice-Chancellor of St. Mary’s University, Twickenham

Press Release
Available for Immediate Release.

On Thursday 25th February, Francis Campbell BA, MA, gave a talk to the members of the Catholic Union at the University of Notre Dame, Suffolk Street. The topic of Catholicism in the Secular World proved to be an insightful look into how Catholicism is evolving in the UK and the world based on current events.
There were many sub-topics that were covered with Mr Campbell using the concept of Faith Schools and their importance to British culture to battle the concern of radicalisation. This comes at a very opportune time with Louise Casey’s reports on cultural differences that are being used to show the positives and negatives of secularism.
It was certainly a talk that the members found thought provoking as Mr Campbell delved back centuries to other cultural divides such as the various Enlightenments to show how reason and faith have always been linked. This was accompanied by quotes from academics and Pope Francis himself to show how identity and individuality, religious or not is vitally important to create a functioning society.
The Catholic Union would like to thank Francis Campbell for taking the time out to give this informative presentation and answer questions on a subject that is a concern not just for Catholics but the United Kingdom as a whole.
ENDS

For the text of the speech please click this link Francis Campbell speech 250216

2016 Catholic Young Writer Award

The Catholic Young Writer Award includes a £50 cash prize, book prizes, and a shield to be kept for one year. The Award is open to all Roman Catholic students of secondary school age in England and Wales, and all pupils at Roman Catholic secondary schools in England and Wales.

 The Award is sponsored by
The Catholic Union Charitable Trust ( CUCT- Registered Charity No 1137317)
 NOTES FOR STUDENTS:
 HOW TO ENTER

Choose one of the following saints, tell us about his or her life and work, and importance in the story of the Christian faith in Britain.
List every internet site that you access, and add a Bibliography of books, pamphlets or other material that you have consulted.

Your essay should be no more than 2,000 words in length. It can be handwritten or produced on a computer.  You can illustrate it if you wish. There should be no material that is simply “cut and pasted” from the internet.

 St Alban
St Augustine of Canterbury
St Columba
St David
St Edward the Confessor
St Hilda of Whitby
St John Fisher
St Margaret of Scotland
St Thomas More
St Margaret Clitheroe
Blessed John Henry Newman

NOTES TO TEACHERS
We accept individual entries, but the project is really aimed at whole classes of groups of students. Entries should be collected together and sent as a group.

 EACH ENTRY MUST INCLUDE the students’ FULL NAME including surname, and  DATE OF BIRTH, and the FULL NAME AND POSTAL ADDRESS OF THE SCHOOL

 Entries should be sent to:
Catholic Young Writer Award 2016
Catholic Union Charitable Trust
63 Jeddo Road
London W12 9EE

 to arrive no later than May 30th 2016