In an commentary piece, "What Makes Catholic Education Catholic?", published recently on the National Catholic Register
site, Mark Brumley, President and CEO of Ignatius Press, asks three
questions about the mission and nature of Catholic education:
“Catholic education” seems like a known commodity. How can we have
serious questions about it, given the array of Catholic schools in this
country? Surely, the history of Catholic education has clarified the
matter. Unfortunately, things
aren’t so simple.
Recently, Kolbe Academy-Trinity Prep a classical, liberal arts K-12
school in Napa, Calif. asked me to participate in a faculty in-service
discussion. Given that it was the start of the school year, I took the
opportunity to re-examine the mission of Catholic education.
There are three basic issues in Catholic education: What is education? What is Catholic education?
And how do the “education part” and the “Catholic part” fit together?
This last question is what I call the “two friends keeping each other
honest” part of Catholic education.
What Is Education?
The Second Vatican Council’s Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration
on Christian Education) insists that “a true education aims at the
formation of the human person in the pursuit of his ultimate end and of
the good of the societies of which he as man is a member and in whose
obligations as an adult he will share” (1).
The same document speaks of helping young people “to develop
harmoniously their physical, moral and intellectual endowments,” and it
insists that because young people need moral formation, “together with a
deeper knowledge and love of God,” public authority should make sure
they get what they’re entitled to.
The Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education defines a school as
“a place of integral formation by means of a systematic and critical
assimilation of culture” (“The Catholic School,” 26). Integral means all the pieces are there and they fit together. Formation means education concerns the kind of person one becomes, not just what one knows.
In other words, it concerns intellectual and moral knowledge but also
virtues habits of acting for the true, the good and the beautiful.
Integral formation also includes spiritual formation.
Education involves the systematic and critical assimilation of culture. It’s not a haphazard and uncritical endeavor.
“The Catholic School” continues:
Read the entire essay