This Sunday, 10th September, is Education Sunday.
Education Sunday is when Catholic Church congregations commemorate their predecessors
of the 19th century, many of whom were living in poverty, paying for schools to be built.
Our parishioner forebears and their Bishops rightly saw education as the principal means of
handing on the faith and improving the spiritual, moral, social and cultural lives of children
and young people. Their sacrifices helped re-establish the 2,175 Catholic schools and four
universities that we celebrate in church on 10 September. Established by the Bishops in
1848, Education Sunday is one of the oldest Days of Special Prayer in the liturgical calendar
of England and Wales.
In the 175 years since then the Catholic Church has become the country’s largest provider
of secondary schools and second-largest provider of primary schools. Catholic education is
by far the largest charitable activity of the Church here, and we give thanks for the many
thousands of teachers, lecturers, academics, support staff, leaders, governors, advisers and
others who have found their vocation in Catholic education, and without whom this would
Catholic schools continue to be true to their mission: they educate more pupils from the
most deprived backgrounds; outperform national GCSE English and Maths averages by five
percentage points; and are more ethnically diverse than other state-funded schools.
For this success to continue, however, the help of the whole Catholic community remains
essential. As throughout history, all Catholics need to be prepared to support, promote and
defend Catholic education. There are many ways to do this: in prayer for vocations to
Catholic education; asking your diocese about becoming a school foundation governor; or
encouraging a young person to become a teacher in a Catholic school.
In this way, we can hand on to the next generation the great educational legacy of those
poor and immigrant Catholic communities of the Victorian era who built our schools and
universities. Catholic education is indeed a tremendous achievement to be celebrated –
happy Education Sunday.
Bishop Patrick has written a Pastoral Letter for this special day. You can read it here