Parents are the first and best educators of their children, the Bishop of Derry told Mass goers in the city this week.
Dr. Donal McKeown was speaking at St Eugene’s Cathedral at the opening Mass for Catholic Schools Week 2018.
The family, said the Bishop, was where children saw what it meant to be a good human being.
“Young people learn so much from what they see from the role models in their lives,” he added. “That is why parents, grandparents and others relations are so important.
“From them, young people might not learn French verbs or how to write computer programmes. But the family is where they see what it means to be a good human being and how to cope with the realities of life.”
Turning to schools, Dr. McKeown said: “Schools were set up to support families in their irreplaceable work. Your schools do not just take children from their families, fill their heads with information and then send them home.”
He went on: “Our schools are set up to build on what has been learnt at home – and introduce young people to the wider world. As, in the case of Jesus, the family is the first school of faith and love. A school can build on that but never replace it.”
Each of our schools, said the Bishop, aimed at being a place where pupils and parents were supported so that both young people and adults could grow into the people that “God dreams they can become”.
“Our schools are at their best when schools support families, and when families are engaged with the school. Parents, you are partners in education – and the more you can play that role, the more your child will flourish.”
The Catholic school, he added, aimed to be a place where young people can feel a strong sense of belonging and identity.
“This is not just a place for getting information but a community where young people can learn how to live and co-operate with other people... A Catholic school is a family of families – never merely a place of “cut-throat” competition for exam grades.”