Religious Education in the Catholic school is distinctive because of its focus on the faith development of children and young people within the context of a faith community. Its central purpose is to assist learners to make an informed, mature response to God's call to relationship.
The invitation of Jesus Christ for all people to live life in all its fullness is the challenge that lies at the heart of Religious Education within a Catholic school. Religious Education can respond to this challenge by facilitating regular reflection upon the impact of the message of Catholic Christian faith on learners’ understanding of life and on their personal response to their life circumstances.
Religious Education in the Catholic school endeavours to promote the relevance of the Catholic faith to everyday human life and experience. Understanding that God’s grace is at work in all people’s lives, Religious Education makes explicit what has already been experienced to varying degrees in the lives of all learners.
Teachers in Catholic schools will be aware of the spectrum of faith commitment among learners. For all learners, Religious Education can contribute to a personal search for meaning, value and purpose in their personal response to the revelation of God and, as such, should be central to their educational development.
purpose of religious education
Religious Education in Catholic schools is designed to engage learners in an educational process which will:
- assist them to develop their knowledge and understanding
- develop the skills of reflection, discernment, critical thinking and deciding how to act in accordance with an informed conscience
- exemplify and foster the beliefs, values and practices which are compatible with a positive response to God’s invitation to faith.
The development of faith through Religious Education in a Catholic school is understood to be an event of grace, realised in the encounter of the Word of God with the experience of the person.
In showing fidelity to God, Religious Education places stress on the following aspects of Catholic Christian faith:
- the Mystery of the Trinity
- the person of Jesus
- the revelation of God
- the mystery of the risen Christ
- the Church’s liturgy
- the importance of prayer
- the moral life
- witness to Christian values
- the universality of God's presence in life.
In showing fidelity to the person, the religious education of young people takes cognisance of:
- their religious and spiritual situations
- their stage of development in searching for meaning
- the pace and direction possible for them in their spiritual and religious development
- the respect due to their own developing consciences and convictions
- their individual characters and personalities
- their own language, symbols, experience and subcultures
- the questions and issues that arise in their lives.
journeying in faith
Fidelity to God will always mean being faithful to the fullness of Divine Revelation in Jesus Christ. At the same time, fidelity to the person will require that religious education be presented in ways which enable young people to recognise Divine Revelation as Good News precisely because it offers authentic meaning to the experiences of their lives.
A person matures in faith through a journey of unfolding encounter with God which takes place within the context of a person’s total experience of life. One of the functions of Religious Education in the Catholic school is to provide learners with structured opportunities to experience this kind of encounter.