This year we celebrate the centenary of the 1918 Education Act. This was the Act that saw Catholic schools transfer from Diocesan control to State governance. I want to use this centenary to celebrate the positive impact that this very important partnership between Church and State has had for our diocese and for Scotland.
Throughout 2018 the diocese of Argyll and the Isles will rejoice in the academic, cultural, civic and social achievements of pupils who have attended Catholic schools in the last one hundred years. It is a chance to mark publicly the ways in which Catholic schools are not just good for Catholics, but good for Scotland.
I would like to invite you to our Mass of Thanksgiving which will be held in St Columba’s Cathedral, Oban on Monday 26th March 2018 at 12 noon, followed by light refreshments in the Corran Halls. Pupils, staff, parents, and friends of our four Catholic Schools – St Columba’s, Oban; St Mun’s, Dunoon; St Andrew’s, Rothesay and St Columba’s, Caol will be present. I thank the staff at our Catholic schools for all that they do to encourage our children to be good disciples of the Lord.
The recently commissioned Icon of Jesus the Teacher can now be viewed in the Cathedral. Although this is a National Icon we are justifiably proud of how strongly the influence of our area of education and culture in Scotland is portrayed.
As part of the centenary celebrations, I will be inviting our Primary Sevens to a diocesan Retreat in June. In September I am inviting the staff of our Catholic schools to a diocesan Retreat.
I fully appreciate that most of our children do not attend Catholic Primary Schools and none attend Catholic Secondary Schools. Your local non-denominational schools – and I have been welcomed into a number of them – offer a great education from a dedicated and caring staff. When I met with parish representatives at the end of last year it was clear that you would welcome more opportunities to learn about your Faith. I have been reflecting on how we can best offer catechesis for our youth and adults throughout the diocese. I hope that this centenary year helps us all focus our thoughts.