As Catholic Schools Week 2011 begins I would like to pay tribute to the tremendous work of Catholic school communities in the education of our young people and in helping parents to hand on the precious gift of faith. Parents are, of course, the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith. When children go to a Catholic school, which is ‘rooted in Jesus Christ’ they get a chance to develop friendship with Jesus and to learn essential values which will give meaning to their lives.
We are blessed with dedicated staff, governors and parish communities who work tirelessly to make our Catholic schools extra special! In offering strong values based on the Gospel, Catholic schools can help young people find clear direction amidst the many confusing messages that surround them nowadays. In celebrating the dignity of every human person, regardless of beliefs or identity, our Catholic schools remind each young person that he or she is unique, special, and loved by God. In doing this, Catholic schools contribute to the common good and add value to society.
Around the world more than fifty million young people, of all faiths and none, are educated in Catholic schools. It is disappointing therefore, that some in Northern Ireland would imply that the very existence of Catholic schools is divisive or even sectarian. A sign of a mature society is one which not only tolerates but also celebrates the diversity within it. To all who contribute to life in our Catholic schools I say this week: Do not be discouraged! Our young people and the healthy future of our society depend on you. Keep up the good work!
Monsignor Eamon Martin
Diocese of Derry