Every year, in these months, many parents hope to get their child into a Church school, putting their child’s name into a ballot.

The day of the ballot dashes the hopes of many, especially those who are wholeheartedly dedicated to pastoral work within the Church and who wish to pass on the same values to their own children. Others are lucky enough to be chosen, facing many dilemmas on which school to choose.

Often though, one starts to wonder, what are these parents after? What do they expect from a Church school?

On the other hand, what are Church schools offering which is qualitatively different from State or independent schools?

An urgent mission for these schools is to form children and staff who are respectful towards a culture of life, respectful of ecology from the womb to the tomb

Is the Church, with the various religious orders, acknowledging the urgent mission it has to evangelise the world through its schools?

“To read and change the world” – this is the vision of one of our Church schools, which, I am sure, is echoed by similar statements in other schools. Church schools are now catering for around half of the education of Maltese children in Malta. Great is the responsibility to read the world and great are the possibilities to change the world.

In a society where we complain that values are being lost, the Church still has this golden opportunity to touch the hearts and lives of almost half the population. We cannot miss this opportunity to work with people in depth, through dialogue.

This is where the local Church needs to invest its resources: in authentic pastoral work in schools, to help children meet the person of Christ, beyond classroom religious education. Church schools need to form children not only intellectually but also on a more deep level of spirituality.

Church schools need to be the microcosm of the societies we want to build. They must strive to continue to be more inclusive learning communities, with just systems, so that when the children become adults, they strive to build a similar world.

These schools must offer space for dialogue between cultures to take place, to foster a culture of relationships.

Similarly, an urgent mission for these schools is to form children and staff who are respectful towards a culture of life, respectful of ecology from the womb to the tomb. 

It is only through children and young people that the Church can reach out to families, who play a crucial part in their children’s formation. We need to make Christian values explicit and visible throughout all the activities and life of the school.

Our families are not steeped in a culture that is conducive to such values. We cannot expect Christian values to pass through by osmosis, through implicit messages alone. We need to support families who are willing to live them.

Many little candles of hope shine in all the efforts in our Church schools. Some are put on a lampstand, others sometimes are still hidden under a bushel.

While living in hope that these will bear fruit, we must never cease to offer an education that clearly brings forth the Good News.



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