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25th edition of Le Chéile


Le Chéile - Issue 25 June 2016 Cover


Issue 25, June 2016, of the biannual journal, Le Chéile has just been published and circulated to schools in the North. The journal, a publication of St Mary's University College, aims to celebrate and promote the vision of Catholic education locally:

  • By identifying, exploring and promoting ways in which this vision can be lived in Catholic schools.
  • By seeking to empower teachers with a renewed and revitalised sense of the spirituality and vocational nature of teaching.
  • By aiming to encourage and inform practitioners in Catholic education locally.

This edition’s editorial is entitled “A Significant Milestone: The twenty-fifth edition of Le Chéile”.

It reads as follows:

A Significant Milestone: The twenty-fifth edition of Le Chéile

This is the twenty-fifth edition of Le Chéile, a significant milestone, and one that allows me the opportunity to underline the journal’s ongoing commitment to helping schools to identify, explore and promote ways of living out the distinctive vision of Catholic education. Our schools exist in a climate of intense media and political scrutiny. The constraints imposed on staffing levels and resources by the climate of austerity are painful. For all that, as the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) reports point out, our schools are academically high-achieving and much-praised for the pastoral, spiritual and social outworking of their ethos. Our schools more than happily coexist alongside state-controlled, integrated, Irish-medium and other types of schooling. That is not to imply, however, that they are not under pressure from a broader educational landscape that is increasingly shaped by utilitarian tendencies. Not only Catholics feel this pressure. The former UK Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, has commented: “Today, in a Europe more secular than it has been since the last days of pre-Christian Rome, the culprits are an aggressive scientific atheism, tone deaf to the music of faith; a reductive materialism blind to the power of the human spirit ... a consumer driven economy that is shrivelling the imaginative horizons of our children; and a fraying of all social bonds, from family to community ....”

Catholic education must see beyond such limited horizons and continue to promote a broader, richer, more holistic vison. When Catholic schools are faithful to their own distinctive ethos, they transcend those pragmatic and utilitarian philosophies that understand the educational enterprise as merely an instrument for the acquisition of information that will improve the chances of worldly success and a higher standard of living. Catholic education at its best has a profound spiritual and social vision that builds up our capacity for empathy with others, especially the poor and the newcomer. Catholic educators need to articulate and give concrete shape to their vision of education as essentially a humanising endeavour characterised by love, hope and social justice, forming young people who will serve the world with their gifts. Board of Governors, principals and teachers in particular, need to be assiduous in ensuring that they understand, encourage and nurture the Catholic vision of their schools. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to prioritise the importance of Religious Education on the timetable of post-primary schools and to ensure that the departments are well staffed by high-quality, committed teachers.

In this edition:

  • Professor Tom Groome of Boston College proposes that Catholic teachers have much to learn from Jesus’ actual pedagogy, from both what and how he taught.
  • Eamonn Walls concretises such an approach by drawing on his own spiritual journey to explain what fires his vocational commitment as a teacher, allowing him to negotiate the inevitable burdens of banality and bureaucracy which are unavoidably part of school life.
  • Archbishop Eamon Martin, in this ‘Year of Mercy’, reflects on what a Catholic school deeply committed to its ethos—what he terms an intentional Catholic school—looks like in terms of its commitment to addressing the four chief kinds of poverty in the world.
  • A good example of such an intentional vision is reflected in Seán Quinn’s account of the ways Corpus Christi College, Belfast, has been working to welcome and integrate Syrian refugee students into the life of the school.
  • Owen Dudley Edwards, Honorary Fellow of the University of Edinburgh, in this centenary year, offers an acute perspective on the impulses and calculations which led to the Easter Rising.
  • Eoin Carroll introduces a new online teaching resource, On the Margins, which seeks to encourage and develop students’ capacity for the work of social justice.
  • Briege O’Neill explains how her school has been celebrating the Year of Mercy.
  • Maria Mullen shares her favourable estimation of the Come Follow Me programme.
  • Marie-Claire Turley offers an initial reaction to the new Grow in Love programme as it begins its roll out in Irish schools, replacing the Alive O programme.
  • Marguerite Hamilton reviews a touching, uplifting book which describes a Camino undertaken in the face of a painful bereavement.
  • Gerd Curley offers a thoughtful reflection on the importance of kindness and civility in everyday life.
  • Three St Mary’s final year students, Jake Magill, Jane Magee and Paul Casey, offer a thought on their experience in youth ministry in Dromore Diocese.
  • Finally, Aidan Forker reflects on the importance of community and faith in his life.

For further information please contact Rev Dr Niall Coll at 028 90268262.