Three schools in Ireland are about to become the first in the country to abandon their Catholic identities, a hopeful sign of what’s to come.
While the Church runs about 90% of primary schools in Ireland, these three schools, which are admittedly tiny, will go for a more “multi-denominational” approach that promotes a variety of beliefs and values instead of those endorsed by the Catholic Church.
The three small primary schools — Lecarrow in County Roscommon, and Tahilla national school and Scoil an Ghleanna, both in County Kerry — will reopen for the new term on Thursday under the umbrella of local education and training boards.
“We had a third of our pupils who were non-religious, so we had to look at this,” Sorcha Ni Chatháin, the principal of Scoil an Ghleanna, told RTÉ News. “We needed to look at how we were going to keep pupils, and entice others. We are a beautiful school in the most stunning location, and now we can show — formally, on paper — that we are all inclusive.”
Teachers, parents andCatholic clerics endorsed the transition as essential for survival. “This is what the community wanted and I was happy to facilitate that process,” said Fr Patsy Lynch, the parish priest.
You know things are bad when even Church leaders are saying this is necessary…
In the past, the Church has allowed defunct schools to turn into non-Catholic ones, but these schools are unique in that they’re changing identities in real time. But it shouldn’t be that surprising given the public backlash against the Church. After the child sex abuse scandals and the Magdalene Laundries, it wasn’t shocking to see the public vote to overturn the Church-endorsed abortion ban and welcome marriage equality.
Let’s hope these schools are the initial dominoes in a long, long chain.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)