Your Eminence, Archbishops, Bishops, Sisters and Brothers
As the current chairperson of the Catholic School proprietors association it gives me great pleasure to stand before you along with members of the Catholic Institute of Education (CIE) to give this brief presentation for the launch of the new Catholic Board of Education.
Over the years many sacrifices have been made for Catholic education, especially by countless sisters and brothers. Today, that sacrifice continues to be made by many who give of their time and talent for the education of the children in this region.
Catholic education remains the last major institutional footprint of the Church in Southern Africa and if we value the Church’s presence at the margins of society, “getting the smell of the sheep” as Pope Francis is often quoted as saying, then we need to recognise the vital importance of the continued mission of the Church in education.
In recent years the owners of catholic schools and people involved in educational leadership like the Catholic Institute of Education, have recognised the need to streamline the various bodies involved in the provision and service of Catholic education.
Over the past two years there has been a concerted effort to make this a reality, many meetings have been held and much time has been spent thinking and planning the best way forward. This journey of discernment has led us to today when with great pleasure we come together to launch the Catholic Board of Education.
The significance of this place and day should not go unnoticed – we are next to Loreto Convent school founded in 1878, the first catholic School in this area, at the start of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference Plenary session and at a Mass for the end of the Year of Consecrated Life. A fitting time and place to remember and to say thank you:
· To the pioneers of Catholic education – those courageous women and men who saw education as important and who founded and sustained schools in times of plenty and in times of difficulty
· To the various Bishops who invited the different Congregations into their dioceses to found and run schools
· To the parents who supported the schools and who continue to make a meaningful contribution to their ongoing success
· To the pupils over the years who have attended our various schools and who drawing on what they received have made and continue to make an ongoing contribution to the good of society
· To those who have continued the legacy of the founders – the leadership, the administrative staff as well as the support staff who have responded to the challenge and in whose capable hands the future of catholic education lies
· To those who nationally as well as on provincial level have offered support services in many different ways to the owners and to the schools thank you for the support you have provided and continue to provide
· To all those who in any way support catholic education – financially, through prayer and in any other way.
Catholic education is important and it does matter and together we continue to strive to serve both the needs of the Church and catholic Community as well as the wider society through our striving to provide education of excellence in the Broad Catholic tradition and ethos.
This Candle represents the light lit so many years ago by the founders and pioneers, it represents that light that has been kept burning by all those who worked in and for catholic education over the years and is now entrusted to those who will continue to provide leadership and support for catholic education in the future.
On behalf of the Catholic Schools Proprietors’ Association and the Catholic Institute of Education we hand this candle emblazoned with the logo for catholic education, the scallop shell representing the different paths we have come from and the different paths we will walk - all in the light of Christ, over to Bishop Sandri the current Liaison Bishop for Education of the southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference along with the candle there is a list of schools that the CBE will give guidance to through its leadership in catholic education.
Bishop Sandri, along with those on the Catholic Board of Education keep this flame representing our faith in Christ and in the future of catholic education alight and burning.