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‘Put Christ at the centre of school teaching,’ urges bishop

Bishop Philip Egan considers the future of Catholic education (Scott Anderson/NewsTribune via AP)

A bishop is urging schools to be “a centre of prayer, ideally with a chapel and a chaplain,” after visiting all 76 Catholic schools in his diocese.

In a pastoral letter to be read on Sunday, Bishop Philip Egan of the Diocese of Portsmouth shares his findings and aspirations for Catholic schooling after visiting the schools over an 18-month period.

“In a Catholic school – independent, voluntary aided, free or academy – everything should be done to create an authentic Christian ethos.

“The entire curriculum should be so centred on Christ that all teaching and learning, and all subject-areas, especially the sciences and humanities, become interrelated and unified in Him,” Bishop Egan said, before emphasising the role of prayer in daily school life: “The school should be a centre of prayer, ideally with a chapel and a chaplain.”

The bishop also drew attention to the need for practical action, acknowledging a current shortage of places in Catholic schools, and the need to attract talented people to the teaching profession. He said:

“We need to be innovative, to find new ways of attracting staff, encouraging our young to become teachers.” He added: “St Paul sees teaching as a God-given vocation, something we see in the inspiring teachers we have today. So today after Mass, or when you next visit the Blessed Sacrament, please remember to pray for more vocations.”

Publicly-funded Catholic schools in the Portsmouth area are currently being converted into four multi-academy trusts, a task Bishop Egan described as “challenging”. The trusts will be under the patronage of four contemporary saints of mission: St Edith Stein, St Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Blessed John Henry Newman and Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati.