Archbishop tells Catholic schools not to ‘shy away from ethos’

Archbishop tells Catholic schools not to ‘shy away from ethos’ Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell.

Parents are not less interested in Catholic education compared to previous generations and Catholic schools “should not shy away from ethos”, according to Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell.

In his homily at the Mass for the Association of Patrons and Trustees of Catholic School (APTCS) at the Dominican retreat centre in Tallaght, Dublin, Archbishop Farrell called for Catholic schools not to “retreat”.

“The reason we are deeply involved in Catholic Schools is to provide parents who wish to educate their children with a school whose ethos is Catholic,” he said.

“Such an education cannot just focus only on points, or academic subjects. We are not naked intellect. The school is not a laboratory for facts. Spiritual and moral formation are required, too. It would be mistake to think that most parents are less interested in a school with a Catholic ethos than previous generations.”

Archbishop Farrell said “we should not shy away from our ethos”.

“We must put ourselves in the public square. If the Catholic School is to fulfil its mission properly, it cannot retreat into what it considers a safe space. A Catholic school that isolates itself becomes self-centred and self-referential”.

The primary challenge for the patrons and trustees group “is to maintain the ethos of the Catholic school—an ever increasing challenge in the contemporary world”, according to Archbishop Farrell.


“As a group of patrons and trustees, we have a very serious obligation and responsibility to be faithful to the founding intentions of the women and men who began this work. Are there challenges in our schools today? Yes. But there were also challenges in the past.

“The priests and religious who built, maintained and served Catholic schools for generations made great sacrifices; we stand on their shoulders today.”

The APTCS was formed to bring cohesion to the Catholic school sector and create a platform for cooperation between all the various trusts and bishops involved in diocesan secondary schools.

The patrons and trustees who are charged with responsibility for Catholic schools “need to consider seriously what it is we do, how we do it, and how we prepare these schools to continue to reflect the Catholic ethos for the families who wish to enrol their children in them,” Archbishop Farrell said.

“I am not by any means suggesting a bunker mentality in regard to the Catholic school, as this would be unhelpful in evangelising the culture of today,” he continued.

“‘Openness to others, whoever they may be…’ We see the same openness emerge in the disciples at the end of the Gospel in today’s Mass. This story, which we know so well, ends in a typical Lukan flourish: Jesus—a stranger to the two disciples—makes as if to go on, the disciples invite him in, and they recognise him the breaking of bread.”



He said that openness to the stranger, “the other”, is the key to recognising Christ. “In particular, the cry of the poor and the disadvantaged, especially in the local parish, must always be heard by a listening, concerned, and hospitable Church,” Dr Farrell said.

“Any school with a Catholic ethos cannot be deaf to the particular educational needs of these children who face multiple challenges every day. To insulate ourselves from their educational need contradicts our core mission to provide a preferential option for the poor and disadvantaged.”