Monthly Archives: December 2013

Attending a Catholic School and Avoiding Catholic Teachings

This one comes straight out of the archives of Monty Python: and now for something completely different. Let me get this straight:

  1. a father wants his non-Catholic son to attend a Catholic school
  2. he wants his son exempt from Roman Catholic religious studies and “activities” (including liturgies and religious retreats)

booksThose are the facts thus far. A writer named Davide Mastracci agrees with this Brampton father, that is, that non-Catholic children have the right to attend a Catholic school yet not attend Catholic faith-based courses. My question to this father and to Mastracci is very simple: if a person wishes to have a non-religious public school education, why attend a Catholic school? Doesn’t one rather cancel out the other? Has the public school system gone crazy or is it just me and my outdated Catholic education beliefs?

There is a hidden agenda on the part of this Brampton father, Oliver Erazo. He isn’t supportive of the public school system. He has issues with it or his kid would be attending a public school. Nope, he doesn’t like the public school system so he sends his son to a Catholic school, not due to support of the Catholic mandate (clearly) but because this man is side-stepping an issue with the public school board he hasn’t yet revealed. I can’t wait to hear that one. The Erazos are fortunate to live in a community and a country that offers two publicly funded school systems, private schools, distance education and the right to home-school your child. Pick one of those. Stop being such a thorn in the crown…oops, I meant the side, where the lance went….oops, I meant, well now I don’t know what I meant. Silly me. I must stop letting my Catholic faith interfere with my religious beliefs.

01_05_09_specialHopefully Catholic schools embrace the Catholic faith far more than through “courses” and “activities“, as has always been my experience as a Roman Catholic student and now, as a Roman Catholic teacher. For instance here are just a few of the “activities” that help to enhance the faith-based foundation of the elementary separate school system:

  1. Monthly awards for children who demonstrate one of the Catholic virtues: faith, hope, love, acceptance, and so on.
  2. Pageants and ceremonies (Christmas pageant, Easter stations of the cross).
  3. Ongoing masses reflecting the religious calendar.
  4. World-renowned speakers and performers attending Catholic schools to demonstrate their manner of celebrating the Catholic faith.
  5. Morning announcements that include prayer, a reading from the bible and an interpretation of its meaning.
  6.  Continued reiteration and reminders to children during the day about how we use our Catholic faith as we interact with one another.
  7. We teach not only academics but also a conscience based on the tenets Jesus Christ brought to this earth.
  8. As teachers we strive to function as exemplars of our faith in and outside the classroom and school.
  9. A spirit of faith and Christianity that permeates the school.
  10. Religious retreats – you know, the kind the Erazos are kicking up such a fuss about.

JesusChristcopy-1In Canada, the term separate school refers to a particular type of school that has constitutional status in three provinces (Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan) and statutory status in three territories (Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory and Nunavut). In these Canadian jurisdictions a separate school is one operated by a civil authority, being a separate school board, with a mandate enshrined in the Canadian Constitution or in federal statutes. This mandate manifests itself in the Program of Studies and the curriculum, exercises and practices, and staffing.  It is to provide education in a school setting that the separate school board considers reflective of Roman Catholic (or, rarely, Protestant) theology, doctrine, and practices. Do you get it Mastracci?

bag_of_moneyI love the argument that all taxpayers fund public schools as well as Catholic schools. It would seem to be that non-Catholic students attend Catholic schools, ergo, non-Catholic taxpayers are funding schools that educate non-Catholic kids. Listen, there’s always seven other provinces to choose from if you want to attend a Catholic school and slip in under the religious enrollment radar.

This isn’t about a Brampton father seeking rights for his non-Catholic son to attend a Catholic school yet be exempt from the teachings of the Catholic faith. This goes way beyond this single incident and that’s what scares me. Should the powers that be agree with this father then this case sets a precedent in Catholic schools: you may attend our religious institution but if you don’t want to enroll in our religious courses and practice our religious faith, that’s okay with us.

Look at the public school system today. What’s a Christmas tree? (community tree). What’s an Easter egg?  (spring sphere). What’s a Christmas carol? (no 0ne knows anymore – public school classes aren’t allowed to sing them and besides they forget the words). What’s Halloween? (orange and black day). I don’t know if kids are allowed to wear a crucifix in public schools but I do know that Sikh children carry kirpans.

alphabetchalkboard1The public school system and our communities in Ontario generally have lost the right to celebrate Jesus Christ and Christianity, even though it has been a practice in Ontario almost since the beginning of the education system itself. Are we now going to allow non-Catholics to start eroding our rights within our schools? God, I pray that isn’t the case. And there’s an ulterior motive with Oliver Erazo. It’s not just that he wants Jonathan to be exempted from Catholic studies, he wants the school to babysit him. Really? At 16 (grade 11), isn’t Jonathan legally old enough to look after himself at home? Erazo’s lawyer summed it up as such: “The perfect solution, at the end of the day, would be if there’s supervision for Jonathan to go to either the library or the office.” Wrong. The perfect solution would be to send this kid to a public school. But there’s something there that Erazo isn’t letting us in on about public education. Put money on that one.

Tell you what, Oliver Erazo, you suffer unbearable torture for several hours, carry a cross to the top of a hill whilst wearing a nasty crown of thorns stuck into your head, get crucified and hang for three hours until you suffocate, come back from the dead for 40 days, and you will have the right to insist on any type of public, non-faith, atheist, agnostic,occult, or other faith-based school system you want. That includes insisting on supervision for Jonathan while he is avoiding Catholic-related activities.

I shall conclude with Mastracci’s own question, with a slight twist at the end: Should students at Catholic schools who are not Catholic be allowed to exempt themselves from Catholic related courses and activities?
The answer is clearly no.