In Episode 84 of the Catholic School Matters podcast, Gwen Byrd of the Archdiocese of Mobile, joins me to discuss the US Bishop’s 1976 pastoral statement on Catholic education “To Teach Them.” Here is the link to the podcast.
The first thing that stands out is that one of our longest-serving superintendents, Gwen Byrd, talks about how infrequently she reads Church documents. The purpose of this series is to provide people with an onramp to understanding the Church documents on Catholic education—where to find the documents, how to understand them in context, etc.
Notice how Gwen understands the impact of Vatican II. She has lived the changes brought by the council—especially the role of the laity.
Everything old is new again. Going back to 1976, we hear the bishops talk about value of formation of teachers and the role of laity in school leadership. These are issues very much on the forefront of Catholic education today. This document also addresses the value of outreach to the Black community. As our bishops today have organized around fighting racism, these issues re-surface.
The Bishops also question the value of Catholic schools in terms of the mission. If the schools are designed to “serve all” in the context of the entire Diocese, then the entire Diocese should support it. If the schools are completely tuition-based and relies totally on the families who enroll, the school becomes a private school. Even in 1976, the Bishops saw the value to the entire diocese.
Listen to this podcast as part of the 13-part series and go the website to check for additional resources and a study guide.