At the centre of colleges under the stewardship of Mary Aikenhead Ministries lies a strong and enduring commitment to our Catholic faith. It is this commitment that gives us our identity expressed in a distinctive way through Venerable Mary Aikenhead’s prophetic response to the Gospel, and the inherited tradition of the Sisters of Charity of Australia.

Certain characteristics must be present for a school to be considered authentically Catholic. The elements that necessarily belong to a school’s Catholic identity are the principles articulated by the Holy See and are the measurable benchmarks inspiring the mission of every Catholic school.

A Catholic school will be inspired by a vision that recognises the spiritual dimension of each person. The specific purpose of a Catholic education is the formation of young people who will be good citizens of this world, loving God and neighbour, enriching society with the values of the Gospel.

A Catholic school emphasises the inalienable dignity of the human person. Catholic schools are schools for the human person and of the human person founded on Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ is to inspire and guide the Catholic school in every dimension of its life and activity – its philosophy of education, its curriculum, its pedagogy, its community life, even its physical environment. Catholic schools have the task of being the living and provocative memory of Christ.

A Catholic school is a community of persons and a genuine community of faith. Catholic schools are no longer seen to be simply education institutions but more rightly so communities of persons drawn together by a common faith that determines who and how the community will be for the world.

In a Catholic school a Catholic worldview permeates the whole curriculum.

  • All instruction must be authentically Catholic in content and pedagogy across the entire program of studies.
  • The Catholic school will foster love for wisdom and truth, and integrate faith, culture and life.
  • Students in Catholic schools should learn to transform culture in the light of the gospel.
  • Catholic schools prepare students to relate the values of the gospel to their particular culture and to live these values in practice.

A Catholic school is sustained by Gospel witness. Catholic schools seek to reflect a distinctive vision of life and a corresponding philosophy of education. This is based on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

These characteristics form the basis for all we do as Catholic colleges in the spirit of Mary Aikenhead and in the tradition of the Sisters of Charity of Australia. Based on our founding story and identity, they call us to courage in responding to the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel. They empower us to seek our own prophetic response to the Gospel imperatives, and to create and sustain educational communities actively imbued with justice, hope, compassion and love.

Adapted from:
Archbishop J. Michael Miller csb, The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools
St Paul’s Publications Strathfield NSW Australia 2012

Some Catholic teachers bring to their educational ministry the charism of a particular religious institute, with all that involves in terms of a specific spirituality and approach to pedagogy. This is highly commendable. But more important than handing on elements of a particular charism to certain members of the laity is safeguarding and protecting schools’ Catholic ethos. We cannot forget that a school is first Catholic before it can be moulded according to the specific charism of a religious institute.
The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools p 6