Religious Education in Edmonton Catholic Schools
We are Called to be Leaders of Hope and Mercy: the Hands and Feet of Christ - Religious Education in Edmonton Catholic Schools
The vision statement of our District informs us that: our students will learn together, work together, and pray together in answering the call to a faith-filled life of service. There are many exciting formation opportunities that our students and staff experience in regards to their Religious Education and Faith Formation. We would like to highlight four fundamental areas: Engaging Curriculum, the Learner Competencies Formed Through Catholic Education, Staff Formation and Social Justice.
- Engaging Curriculum: We are in the process of implementing a new Religious Education curriculum. We will highlight the guiding principles of the new curriculum, the exciting resources, and the long-term implementation plan across the grades. We will discuss the High School curriculum and its various forms of delivery.
- Staff Formation: The project of the Catholic school is convincing only if carried out by people who are deeply motivated, because they witness to a living encounter with Christ, in whom alone the mystery of humanity truly becomes clear. This requires that educators be willing to offer a permanent commitment to professional formation and self-formation regarding a choice of cultural and life values to be made present in the educational community (Educating Together in Catholic Schools 4-5). Religious formation must be broadened and kept up to date, on the same level as, and in harmony with, human formation as a whole. Lay Catholics need to be keenly aware of the need for this kind of religious formation; it is not only the exercise of an apostolate that depends on it, but even an appropriate professional competence, especially when the competence is in the field of education (Lay Catholics in School 62). Catholic educators need a ‘formation of the heart’: they need to be led to that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others, so that their educational commitment becomes a consequence deriving from their faith, a faith which becomes active through love. Apart from their theological formation, educators need also to cultivate their spiritual formation in order to develop their relationship with Jesus Christ and become a Master like Him. (Educating Together in Catholic Schools 25-26)
- Learner Competencies Formed Through Catholic Education: The Ministerial Order on Student Learning (#001/2013) set forth the vision of the competencies that Alberta students could expect to develop over the course of their education. Knowing that a Catholic education is more than the Religious Education curriculum, we looked at these curricular competencies through the lens of a Catholic worldview, in conjunction with the Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations, and developed Learner Competencies Formed Through Catholic Education. These Learner Competencies articulate the unique way in which students who experience the richness of Catholic education approach all subject matter, thus permeating faith into their learning. We will examine the Learner Competencies themselves, how our staff has experienced them as part of our last two Permeation afternoons, and how our curricular consultants are working with staff to unfold the Learner Competencies across the disciplines.
- Social Justice: Our schools have been involved in Social Justice projects on an ongoing basis. Staff and students alike have been demonstrating their understanding of and commitment to the Works of Mercy, both Corporal and Spiritual. Social Justice Initiatives have been and continue to be a hallmark of our schools. Social justice is best understood by taking a look at what social ministry is. Social ministry has two key components: social service (also referred to charity or parish outreach) and social action. Social Service is giving direct aid to someone in need. It usually involves actions that fulfill a person's physical and related needs. For example, giving money to the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick or imprisoned, taking care of orphans and widows, visiting shut-ins, etc. Social Action aims to alleviate human suffering by working to change those structures that cause or perpetuate the oppression, poverty, war, racism or sexism. Another name for this is Social Justice.