Why are Catholic Schools so picky?

Why are Catholic Schools so picky?

29 April 2014

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“No written word, no spoken plea, can teach our youth what they should be. Nor all the books on all the shelves, it’s what the teachers are themselves.”-Anon

A longstanding requirement amongst Catholic schools is that the positions of Headteacher, Deputy and RE Coordinator be held by practising Catholics who are in good standing with the church.

If the numerous phone calls I have received are anything to go by, this “requirement” is the source of much frustration and confusion amongst many a would-be applicant. Why, despite their glowing references and wealth of experience, are their efforts thwarted when their “sporadic” mass attendance comes to light?

The answer lies in the belief that such posts are not just professional but vocational.

Pope Benedict described Catholic schools as “an essential resource for the new evangelisation”; places characterised by their provision of a Christ-centred education founded on a systematic catechises of Catholic teaching.

The Catholic nature of a school is thus by no means a mere “add on” but rather an integral part of its identity and vision. When understood in this light, such “prescriptions” no longer appear unfair nor unreasonable. For without an understanding of the Catholic doctrines at the core of their school, how could a Head ever be expected to fulfil all that is required of them?

It is often said that everything rises and falls on leadership. I believe this is particularly true of church schools. Therefore, if a school is to maintain its distinctive Catholic ethos, its leaders are expected to not only understand but also promote and live out the key tenets of their Catholic faith. Similarly, if pupils are to receive instruction regarding moral behaviour, the substantive life choices of their instructors ought not to be yet another source of confusion.

Catholic schools do not seek “perfect” Catholics to fill their Headship positions. If they did, there would be a vacant post in every school! What they do seek are competent men and women, aware of their own shortcomings but committed to their walk with the one “by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

Similarly, Emmaus does not “manufacture” Christian Headteachers. Rather we are committed to finding those God has called and encouraging those whom He is calling.

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