Meeting with Newly Qualified and Probationer Teachers
Monday 27th October 2008
- First of all, I want to welcome you to this encounter and thank you for coming here today. I was keen to meet you. I want to congratulate you on qualifying as a teacher. The Church knows well that teaching is a most noble calling, essential to the good of young people in particular and of society as a whole. It is perfectly right and fitting that teachers should be looked upon with respect in our communities. I hope you will be happy, fulfilled and successful in the teaching profession.
- You are here today because you are newly-qualified/probationer teachers with posts in Catholic schools within the Diocese of Paisley. The majority of you are yourselves Catholic, although I appreciate that some of you may not be.
- However, you are all in Catholic education, at least for the moment. We have all listened to a passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. This short extract is a classic New Testament moment, which shows that faith comes from hearing the message, which itself depends on preaching, which in turn is predicated upon someone being sent to preach. The Catholic Church is not embarrassed to invite Catholic teachers and teachers who work in Catholic schools to see themselves as people sent by God to our young people to help them grow to maturity in Jesus Christ.
- For that reason, I encourage you to see teaching not just as a profession but as a vocation, that is to say, God’s purpose for you. This is the way God calls you to friendship with him, the way God calls you to holiness. Of course, teaching is a profession in every respect. As a profession others will guide you. As a bishop, I just want to emphasise for you this deeper aspect of your profession, especially if you are a Christian and a Catholic, that for as long as are a teacher, this is God’s call to you in Jesus Christ, this is your way to friendship with God and to holiness of life. This is the way you follow Jesus Christ.
- It is against that background of the personal call and vocation of the Catholic teacher within the mission of the Church that the mission of the Catholic school has developed, a mission to educate the whole person providing high quality education and pastoral care through the promotion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as understood and transmitted by the Catholic Church and through service to the common good.
- St. Paul says: “If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” For Catholics and Christians, the vocation of the teachers has implications. We need to know and be convinced of our faith with our minds and give assent to it in our hearts. Catholic teachers should be practising Catholics whose lives are at one with their faith. Catholic teachers need to be formed in their faith. For those of you who are Catholic, please don’t be simply be Catholics working in Catholic schools, but be Catholic teachers.
- For those of you who are not Catholic or who are not people of religious faith, I want to say a word to you. Often teachers in Catholic schools who are not Catholic are very careful about respecting the Catholic mission of the school and indeed, many share the core convictions of that mission about the integral formation of the human persons through the spiritual and moral values which are transmitted in the message of Jesus Christ and of the Catholic Church. There is a charter for Catholic Schools in Scotland which all teachers, including non-Catholic teachers, are asked to subscribe to and do subscribe to. I ask you to make your contribution to Catholic schools as best you can and I hope that your experience of Catholic schools will be life-enhancing for you, maybe even life-changing, and I hope that it brings you closer to divine mystery to which all human beings are attracted and which we believe to have been shown forth in Jesus Christ.
- In a word, really, I am very much a supporter of Catholic schools. As part of the public provision of education in Scotland, I believe they do not just benefit the Catholic community but the whole of our society. I want Catholic schools to be as good as they can be both in terms of an integral formation of our young people and in terms of a witness and advocacy of the person and message of Jesus Christ.
- I am very much a supporter too of Catholic teachers and of all who work in Catholic schools in whatever capacity. I want you to be fulfilled professionally. I want you to feel part of the mission of the Church working for Jesus Christ in service of our brothers and sisters. In the reading we heard, St. Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” You are those messengers of Good News to our children and young people. I want your faith to grow and your knowledge of Jesus Christ to deepen and develop. I want you to live and teach with faith and love, and become those messengers of good news.