From the very beginning, Christians were sent out to teach all nations and to make disciples, or pupils of them (Mt. 28: 19-20). The Church understands education in its broadest holistic sense. As Pope Francis said, “Education is a dynamic reality; it is a movement that brings people to light … [education] is a peculiar kind of movement, with characteristics that make it a dynamism of growth, oriented to the full development of the person in their individual and social dimension.” (Address to Plenary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, February 2020)
The glory of God is a person fully alive; spiritually, intellectually, physically, and morally. Catholic education seeks to develop the entirety of the human person, body and spirit, respecting essentially the dignity of the individual child, each created in the Image and Likeness of God.
Catholic schools are established to assist parents and guardians in the education of their children, respecting the parental role as primary educator. Catholic schools do not indoctrinate, but rather seek to propose the Faith, primarily through action, but also through instruction. Following St. Francis of Assisi Catholic schools should seek to “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.” The Christian ethos of the school should primarily be evident in how the school community acts and teaches by example, only after instructing by word.
The Patrons are grateful that our schools are blessed with dedicated Principals and staff. The role of non-teaching staff has increased over the years to the benefit of pupils, particularly those with special education needs. SNAs provide a valuable service in assisting pupils to achieve their potential. Ancillary staff too are vital to the running of the school, with secretaries, caretakers and cleaners being essential to the mission and purpose of their schools. Daniel 12:3 says that those responsible for teaching “shall shine like stars forever and ever”. This was the symbolic meaning of the star in the traditional crest of the Christian Brothers’ schools.
Catholic education recognises the principle of subsidiarity; that governance and authority should be exercised at the most local appropriate level. Reflecting that, the management of schools is entrusted by Patrons to Boards of Management. Persons serving on such Boards make up one of the largest volunteer forces in the State. The Patrons are grateful for their service, both to their schools and to their communities. Schools should be assisted in their task by the local parish.
There is also a responsibility on the diocese, and on the bishop who is Patron of the Catholic schools, to offer Board members opportunities for deepening their understanding and to try to ensure that they have the information, the skills and the support they need in carrying out their responsibility. For that reason, the Dioceses of Killaloe, Kerry and Limerick joined together to establish St. Senan’s Education Office which is available to advise and assist Boards of Management in their role. In 2015, St. Senan's Education Office also started providing these services to Boards of Management in the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly. We hope that it will continue to facilitate and encourage the schools, their Boards, and their staff in the role of seeking to make primary schools under Catholic patronage what they are called to be.
May the Lord bless all who serve and are served by the schools under our Patronage and we commend them to the care of St. Senan.
Archbishop of Cashel and Emily
Bishop of Limerick
Bishop of Killaloe
Bishop of Kerry
The story is told that Saint Patrick was asked by some chieftains to cross the Shannon with them into County Clare. He went with them to the top of Knockpatrick, near Foynes, from which he could see their lands. He made a prophecy which referred to Saint Senan/Senán mac Geircinn. He solemnly assured them that in due time one would be born among them who would speak and act in his stead. He promised them that if they remained faithful to his teaching all would be well with them. Should they turn aside from the way of this leader, hunger and want and slavery would be their lot. While he was on Knockpatrick, he looked west to Kerry, also visible from the summit, he blessed the people of Kerry.
Saint Senan’s Education Office recalls Saint Patrick's prophecy of the birth of the great teacher, Senan, and his promise to the people on the other bank of the Shannon, and what later became the diocese of Killaloe, that St. Senan would guide them wisely and well. It recalls his blessing to the people of Kerry.