12 July 2019, The Tablet

Religious orders work together to build Catholic ethos in schools


Pat Murray IBVM: 'The whole thrust of Pope Francis and the Church today is working in collaboration. '


Religious orders work together to build Catholic ethos in schools

Pat Murray IBVM, executive general secretary of the Union of International Superiors General
Photo: Ruth Gledhill/The Tablet

A new association to help religious orders involved with education build on Catholic spiritual tradition and ethos has been launched.

Religious Orders in Education (ROE) will enhance collaboration between the orders to help keep the distinct charisms or different orders alive in the nation’s schools. It will also help maintain the Catholic ethos in schools where religious orders are involved or have been in the past.

The association will bring together congregations that have founded schools in the past as well as those still involved in school governance.

Former headteacher Sr Brenda Wallace FCJ  said: “We wish to build a collaborative trust which will enable Religious Orders to keep their distinctive spirit alive in their schools and colleges.  Our vision is to see 21st century Catholic education strengthened and enhanced by the distinctive charisms of Religious Orders continuing to animate and enrich the schools and colleges of which they are founders or trustees.”

ROE steering group. Pic by Ruth GledhillROE executive committee. L-R: Mary Kenefick PSMG; Patricia Goodstadt IBVM; Pat Murray IBVM; Mervyn Williams SDB; Roisin Maguire, Edmund Rice Trust; Maureen Mee, Loreto Trust; Brenda Wallace FCJ; Margaret O’Reilly LSU.  Pic: Ruth Gledhill

Bishop Marcus Stock, chair of the Catholic Education Service, said the heritage passed on by religious orders “should be treasured and appreciated as a continuing source of inspiration for strengthening and enhancing the Catholic ethos of the schools and colleges which owe their foundation to those religious orders.”

Pat Murray IBVM, executive general secretary of the Union of International Superiors General, said the new association was an example of collaboration through partnership. Schools are the “locus of evangelism” and this was an opportunity to go deeper.

She told The Tablet: “The whole thrust of Pope Francis and the Church today is working in collaboration. He constantly uses the words, ‘encounter’ and ‘community’.”

She added: “The challenge is to go into the margins where the need is.” Different religious orders can bring experience from their tradition and history to share with colleagues in education, such as methods of prayer, of living the spiritual life and of engaging with the wider community.


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