Section-1. Religious Education in the 21 Century

Section-1. Religious Education in the 21st Century
“Let us go forward in Hope! A new millennium is opening before the Church like a vast ocean
upon which we shall venture, relying on the help of Christ the Son of God, who became
incarnate two thousand years ago out of love for humanity, is at work even today: we need
discerning eyes to see this and, above all, a generous heart to become the instrument of his
(Pope John Paul II: January 6, 2001)
These words from Pope John Paul II frame the critical, evangelical missions of Ontario
Catholic schools at the beginning of the third millennium.
In Catholic secondary schools, Religious Education functions as the academic component
within the nexus of activities that seek to evangelize and catechize students. As such,
Religious Education plays an integral role in the learning experiences of Catholic school
students and compliments the various faith-related activities such as: school Masses,
classroom prayer, chaplaincy services, community outreach, and out-of-school Religion
retreats; that take place within the instructional setting of a Catholic secondary school.
It is possible, therefore, to distinguish between Religious Education as a classroom
educational activity and Religious Education as a classroom Religious activity. As an
educational activity, Religious Education courses provide learning opportunities for the
academic development of the students’ knowledge of Religious language, Religious concepts,
and Religious ideas. In doing so, students are able to gain access to Religious literacy as
expressed within the Catholic Faith, as well as the Religious attitudes and life skills related to
a Christian Worldview. Learning takes place within an environment where subject matter
and teaching strategies are planned in age-appropriate ways and with sensitivity to the
affective and personal dimensions of students’ lived experiences.
As a Religious activity, Religious Education courses invite students to build their relationship
with the person of Jesus Christ, as witnesses to by the Catholic Church, which recognizes the
Centrality of God, the dignity of the human person, and the importance of ethical norms.
This witness takes many forms, but essentially to its self-understanding is: the place of
Sacred Scriptures (the Catholic Bible), Catholic Church Sacred Tradition and doctrine
(teachings), the sacramental and liturgical life of the Faith Community, and its moral
foundation for Christian Living and Family Life Education. Course content and learning
requirements are shaped by this self-understanding and opportunities are provided to
integrate the Foundation of Faith and life in a manner conducive to both human and
Religious identity.
The Catechetical Nature of Religious Education
Catholic Educators embrace for themselves the ministry of catechist within their teaching
profession. They are called to be transmitters of the faith as they help prepare young people to
be “clothed in Christ” and become “salt for the earth and light for the world”.
This mandate is even more specific to those who teach a credit course in Religious
Education; for the purpose is two-fold. The first—is to impart knowledge about the Catholic
Faith Tradition; that is to bring Revelation to bear on their lives. The second—is to
encourage young people to follow in the footsteps of Christ; that is to act on God’s behalf for
the good of all creation.
The key features of Catholic secondary school Religious Education courses that will provide
such learning are as follows:
Religious Education courses are designed to reflect the Christian educational
philosophy of Catholic schooling.
Opportunities for discussion, research, inquiry, and exploration of Religious
experience, expression, and diversity are offered.
The integrity of the deposit of the Catholic Faith is respected and presented.
Curriculum requirements need to identify the intrinsic connection between the
content of Religious Education courses and the life experience of students.
Student assessment and evaluation is an integral part of the teaching-leaning