“Evangelization does not stop with religious instruction or liturgy, but affects what is taught and the way it is taught, no matter the subject,” according to a Catholic academic.
Stratford Caldecott writes that the “call for a new evangelization… has huge implications for Catholics in education, at home and at school,” in an article included in the February issue of the Columbia, a magazine of the Knights of Columbus.
Caldecott, who is director of the Centre for Faith and Culture in Oxford for the Newman Guide-recommended Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, says that schools are one place that evangelization can take place for young people.
The witness of individuals who have lived their faith in difficult circumstances, or who worked in the service of the poor and sick and found joy in doing so, is also a powerful means of making audible the call of Christ. Personally meeting such a witness can sometimes bea life-changing experience. And it goes almost without saying that an exemplary parent or teacher, one with a living faith and real integrity, may have the most powerful and lasting effect of all.
The ethos of a school is sometimes expressed in a mission statement, but that can be no more than a point of reference. Ethos requires us to actually behave, not just speak, in accordancewith the faith and intelligence we profess. It is a matter of the “spirit” rather than the “letter.” It shows itself in different ways, from an almost tangible mood or atmosphere to various concrete signs, such as the close integration of liturgy, prayer and religious instruction with the rest of life; the moral example set by teachers and parents; the encouragement given to courtesy and kindness; special care for those with special needs, and so on.
To some it may sound excessively Catholic to say so, but a Christian ethos is essentially Marian. The “atmosphere” of a Catholic school or home will tend to reflect that of the Holy Family, since this is the educational environment in which our Lord himself grew up.
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