The Catholic School – Institution or Community?

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Ok, random question…what do you think of when you hear the word, “institution?’

How about the word, ‘community”?

There is, I believe, a very big difference between seeing your school as an ‘institution’ and seeing your school as a ‘community.’

This week I’ve been reading some church documents on education and their exploration of the difference between institutions and communities.

The documents state:

“The declaration Gravissimum Educationis(18) notes an important advance in the way a Catholic school is thought of: the transition from the school as an institution to the school as a community. “

The first point to note here is the Church drawing our attention to an important advance in how we think about schools.

Rather than being a place where young people are simply corralled for instruction and prepared for work or further study the Church suggests that we need to see the school, and the people in it, in the light of some of the major developments of the Second Vatican Council.

The documents continue:

“This community dimension is, perhaps, one result of the new awareness of the Church’s nature as developed by the Council. In the Council texts, the community dimension is primarily a theological concept rather than a sociological category; this is the sense in which it is used in the second chapter of Lumen gentium, where the Church is described as the People of God.”

So, drawing upon the Councils deeper articulation of the Catholic faithful as ‘the people of God’ we come to see the Catholic school increasingly as a community where these same ‘People of God’ are traveling together.

Its interesting how one word can change so much:

Institution

Community

My prayer for you is that you may pause to reflect upon this powerful insight.

I pray that you may come to see and value more deeply this rich community which you are building and serving

And of which you are also a special and much needed part.

God bless you.

Jonathan

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