Catholic education is distinctive because it offers pupils a vision of lives full of purpose, the Bishop of Shrewsbury has told school children.
Bishop Mark Davies warned youngsters that education was increasingly nihilistic and transmitted the false message that human life was devoid of all meaning.
The Catholic vision, he explained during a Mass at St Nicholas’s Catholic High School in Hartford, Cheshire, envisaged a role, or vocation, for each person in harmony with God’s created order.
“Many young people are being told … that we are here in this world by accident, living a life without any ultimate meaning,” Bishop Davies said during a homily at the annual diocesan secondary schools Mass.
“It is an empty and debilitating vision of life.
“But our Christian faith declares that we are here with a purpose,” the bishop said. “We have each been called into existence, every one of us created by God out of love.”
He told the students from across the diocese that each of them had a vocation.
Bishop Davies said: “Seeing all your uniforms representing so many schools across the diocese I want to remind you what it means to be part of the venture of Catholic education – Catholic education which long pre-dates the interest of the state in education. It is the vision that created the idea of a university, which inspired artistic achievement and scientific progress based on our conviction that the world makes sense and life has a purpose.
“It makes sense because we are not an accident, but because we come from the mind and purpose of the Creator.”
This is the underlying theme of the Laudato Si, the encyclical of Pope Francis on the care of the earth, “our common home”, he said.
The letter, Bishop Davies said, teaches how each person “stands in real relationship with everything that exists”.
Bishop Davies added: “A growing number of voices want no faith in education, the State alone determining what vision of life is to be shared in the classroom.
“However, even if we see our schools one day outlawed this mission of Catholic education will still go on and continue until the end of time because we cannot live this life, or make sense of the world around us – and, Pope Francis would add, our own place in it – unless we know what on earth we are here for.”
The schools represented at the Mass included St Thomas More Catholic High School, Crewe; Loreto Grammar School, Altrincham; Cardinal Newman Catholic High School, Warrington; St Chad’s Catholic and Church of England High School, Runcorn; Blessed Robert Johnson Catholic College, Wellington; St Anselm’s College, Prenton; St Mary’s Catholic College, Wallasey; St James Catholic High School, Cheadle; Chester Catholic High School and St Paul’s Catholic High School, Wythenshawe.
The Mass was the main event of a day of activities entitled “Called by Name, Called to Prayer, Called to Action”, all based on around the theme of the diocesan Year for Vocations.
It involved scores of members of Mini-Dash and their chaplains assembling as a “diocesan family of schools”.
After the Mass the young people were invited to pray about their vocations and to attend a Cafod workshop on Laudato Si.
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