Address of Archbishop William Goh at CEC2021 – Part 3: Parents’ Hopes and Dreams
Following a successful Catholic Education Conference 2021, we are proud to present a five-part series based on Archbishop William Goh’s address at the conference. In part 3, we reflect on parents’ expectations of a Catholic education for their children.
Catholic parents send their children to Catholic schools. For what reason? Because they believe and hope that our schools will continue to help their children to grow in faith, to guide them in their faith, to help them to be moulded in the Gospel values.
Otherwise, why should our Catholic parents send their children to Catholic schools? There are many secular schools today and many of them are doing equally well. We need to do justice to our parents.
Need for a Genuine Encounter
Whenever I walk about, Catholic parents always tell me, “Our Catholic schools are not doing enough for the faith of our children.”
A number of them, because they are so convicted that Jesus is the one who will be able to give them fullness of life, they prefer to send them to the Protestant schools.
The truth is that even our Catholic students, including teachers of course, many of them do not have a real personal experience of Christ in their life, at most some intellectual knowledge – that is the reason why we find that their transformation of life is weak.
The Catholic Ethos
I also want you to remember this: not only why Catholic parents send their children to Catholic schools – why do non-Catholic parents send their children to Catholic schools? They don’t have to, they can choose other schools. This is because, again, they have seen the fruits of children who study in Catholic schools.
They might not embrace the faith entirely, but certainly they approve of our Catholic ethos, the programs, our respect for their faith, and that is the reason why they believe that we will impart these Catholic ethos.
Otherwise, as I have said, I wouldn’t send my child to a school where I don’t believe in the ethos that the school is promoting.
In truth, many parents want their children to be brought up with faith in God and for moral values to be part of their educational formation.
So, it’s important for us to try to appreciate what Catholic schools can offer that secular schools cannot. Secular schools can offer good academic formation, human education, leadership, but can they offer the meaning and purpose in life? Can they tell you what is life? What is the purpose of life? What are we living for? What is the ultimate goal of all that we are doing?
Only religious schools remind us the ultimate goal is not just in this life, that we have a soul, we have a destiny. Our ultimate happiness is life with God. That is why Catholic schools offer a Catholic ambience, a Catholic way of life, Catholic values, but I think most of all, most importantly we offer students meaning and purpose in this world, in view of the world hereafter.
- Teachers – how do you contribute to the Catholic ethos of your school?
- Students – are there ways in which you can engage more deeply with your faith in school?
- Parents – can you foster a faith-filled environment at home, which spills over into your child’s school life?