Religion Education Faith Development

POLICY ON RELIGIOUS EDUCATION AND FAITH DEVELOPMENT

Scoil Mhuire is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Bishop of Elphin and the Trusteeship of the Elphin Diocese. Therefore it is inclusive and subject to the terms of the Enrolment Policy, enrolls children of other faiths and none and respects their beliefs and practices. Consultation with parents of all pupils takes place on enrolment. Parents are welcome to view the Religious programme taught – at its core is the commandment ‘Love God and love your neighbour’. The school models and promotes a philosophy of life inspired by belief in God and in the life of Jesus Christ.

It promotes Religious Education for the pupils in accordance with the doctrines, practices and traditions of the Catholic Church and promotes the formation of the pupils in the Catholic Faith. A Christian ethos permeates the school and the life of the school. There is a spirit of prayer in the school, not just imposed on the children, but it is seen to be a value for the teachers. Children of all faiths are encouraged to pray to God as they are taught by their parents to do so at home. Children of no faith are encouraged to respect prayer time and to use the quiet time for reflection. The staff and children learn about other religions through reading and listening to their peers. The school cannot undertake to educate children of other faiths in their own faith, not can it provide supervision during the religious education period apart from within the class. However, the school has an obligation to nurture the spiritual and moral development of all its children. Children of other faiths and no faith are facilitated to work on their moral and spiritual development during religion time, mass preparation for sacramants and catholic celebrations.

The school was founded in 1902 by the Sisters of Mercy. Entwined with the theology and philosophy of Catholic education is the educational philosophy of the Sisters of Mercy as handed down by Catherine Mc Auley and developed and acculturated by succeeding Sisters of Mercy and their colleagues. Catherine recognised that the dignity of the human person demanded that all children be educated. She committed herself to founding schools which would be centres of excellence and she adopted the very best educational methods known in the world of her time. To this end she went abroad to visit schools that were renowned for the quality of the education they provided. She also planned the religious education programme with her own maxim in mind that:

We should fit children for heaven
Without unfitting them for earth

A copy of the Mercy Philosophy of Education is available in the school for those who request a copy.
It is in this entwined tradition – Catholicism and Mercy – that this school is managed and run.

Pope John Paul VI states that modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers and if he does listen to
teachers it is because they are witnesses. Bearing this in mind we believe
RELIGION IS CAUGHT AND NOT TAUGHT. 
We as a staff try to proclaim the Gospel in our own lives, and give our pupils a sense of Gospel values and Christian values.

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION PROGRAMME

The Board of Management and the teachers have adopted the Alive –O Catechetical Programme approved and recommended by the Irish Hierarchy for use in Catholic Schools.

The programme incorporates the recommended approach to religious education for the reception of the sacraments of Penance, Holy Communion and Confirmation.

The programme is studied each day for one half-hour. A Christian ethos however permeates the school day and the life of the school.

WholeSchool Dimension

Meaningful pictures and artworks are on display throughout the school building.

The major Catholic and local feasts are celebrated. They are marked with the aid of signs and symbols displayed throughout the school

•Advent – the Advent wreath and Jesse tree
•Christmas – tree and crib
•Feast of St. Brigid – traditional crosses
•Feast of St. Patrick – depiction of story and shamrock
•Lent – symbols of repentance and ashes
•Easter – symbols of the new life of resurrection, the empty tomb
•Pentecost – artistic depiction of the coming of the Holy Spirit

Liturgical celebrations are held on some occasions e.g.

•The opening and closing of the school year
•Feasts including the patron feast of the school
•Mercy day
•Carol service at Christmas
•Blessing of Ashes
•Times of trauma or crisis and for other occasions which from time to time are considered appropriate to celebrate or to mark.

The pupils of the school join:

•At the celebration of First Communion and Confirmation
•Family Masses throughout the year
•Holy Week – Stations of the Cross through the town
•Other liturgical celebrations in cooperation with the parish.

The catholic education offered in Scoil Mhuire is conducted in collaboration with the children’s parents and the local parish. We see our role as being supportive of the role of parents and parish.

Spiritual Formation Of Teachers

The spiritual nourishment of teachers is understood by the Board of Management to be an integral part of the religious education programme undertaken by the school. To this end the following are organised:

•Prayer and reflection before staff meetings and Board of Management meetings
•In-service on handing on the faith/ Alive O Programme

Teaching Methodologies Used To Achieve Aims

•Study of the Alive – O Teacher’s Guide
•Interactive learning
•Giving children prayer experiences that are meaningful
•Sacramental and non-sacramental liturgies
•Use of imagination in prayer
•Drama and role play on the theme of Christian Values
•Questions and answers helping children to use their own words
•Vocal prayer

Success Criteria

We will know this policy is working in our school if:

•There is an acknowledged sense of God, Faith, Prayer and Worship within the school community
•There is an ordered community where respect for all is evident at all times
•There is an outward-looking care for the less fortunate in society
•There is evidence of parental interest in the religious education programme
•There are recognisable links between parish/home/school
•Children can speak confidently of their faith

Responsibility For Implementing This Policy

The Board of Management in consultation with the Principal and the Religious Education Representative are responsible for facilitating the smooth implementation of the policy. The teachers teach the programme appropriate to their class.

Teachers and Staff:

•Inform themselves through studying the Alive – O teacher’s manual
•Deliver and teach the Alive – O programme appropriate to their class
•Cooperate with the Chaplain/ Parish and the Diocesan Advisers
•Avail themselves of in-service support provided.
•Actively support the spirit and ethos of the school remembering that Religion is not taught but caught!

Parents:

•co-operate and support the school in its effort, especially at times of sacramental preparation and at other school events to which they are invited. They are also asked to help with religious education homework and to read the parts of the Alive-O programme that are intended for them.

Principal:

•takes an active role in encouraging the whole school aspects of the programme and monitors progress throughout the school
•The Principal time-tables Faith Development as a topic for staff and board meetings
•Liaises with the school chaplain in defining the role of the chaplaincy and the parish in the life of the school
•Helps to facilitate supportive interaction of all parties in implementing the programme.

A copy of this policy has been forwarded to the patron of the Elphin Diocese. The school is under the trusteeship of the Elphin Diocese.

Schedule of a Catholic School

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