New Religious Education Program for Catholic Voluntary Secondary School
As part of Catholic Schools Week 2022 in Ireland, which begins next week, Bishop Brendan Leahy, Chair of the Bishops’ Council for Catechetics, will launch Credible Catholic, a new religious education program for Catholic Voluntary Secondary School in Ireland. The launch will take place as part of a Webinar on Zoom on Wednesday 26 January at 7.00 pm.
Bishop Leahy will be joined at the webinar by Dr. Alexander O’Hara, National Director for Catechetics of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference; Dr. Tom Finnegan, lecturer in theology and religious education, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick; and by Ms. Kate Liffey, Chaplain at Saint Brendan’s Community School, Birr, Co Offaly.
Credible Catholic aims to stimulate dialogue, encourage reflection and critical reasoning, foster religious literacy, build community, nurture faith, and in doing all of these things, to promote student wellbeing. It is an optional resource that will be very helpful to teachers of religious education. The program speaks to and is built around, very important questions young people of all beliefs (religious and non-religious) have about themselves, their world, God, and others.
Commenting ahead of the launch Bishop Brendan Leahy said, “Pope Francis often reminds us that education involves learning three languages – the language of the mind, of the heart, and of our hands. Credible Catholic is a wonderful program that quenches the thirst of the mind, expands the outreach of the heart, and points in the direction of doing many good actions. I think teachers and students alike will value this program that responds to Jesus’ call to love not just with our heart but also with our mind.”
An earlier version of Credible Catholic was written and produced by Fr Robert Spitzer SJ and the Magis Centre, based in California, in 2018 and has been almost entirely re-developed for the Irish context, in line with feedback from RE teachers and theological advisors in Ireland.
The Council for Catechetics and the Catholic Education Partnership acknowledges the generosity of Fr Spitzer and the Magis Centre in their work with RE teachers, Catechetics Council members, schools’ trusts, and others in the work of re-developing this program for Ireland, in particular, Ms. Kate Liffey and Dr. Tom Finnegan.
Highlighting the benefits of the program, Dr. Tom Finnegan said, “Credible Catholic is a new approach to RE that is exciting and intellectually stimulating. It encourages students to critically reflect on and debate a wide range of fascinating topics. The program supports both faith and reasoning in the lives of adolescents by engaging with many of the most important questions in theology, philosophy, and science.”
A unique feature of the Irish version of Credible Catholic is a helpful introductory lesson for teachers which prepares students for engagement with the program modules. This introductory lesson reminds students that ultimately, in the Christian tradition faith is a gift and God is mystery.