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Build Bethlehem Everywhere - A Statement on Catholic Education
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Discussion Guide

This important resource on the nature of Catholic education has been produced by the Canadian Catholic School Trustees Association. To order this document, go to the CCSTA web site at

Below you will find a discussion guide to use with the members of your school community as an ongoing, adult faith formation activity.

Build Bethlehem Everywhere A Statement on Catholic Education

Canadian Catholic School Trustees’ Association (2002)

Chapter One

The Principle of Sacramentality: A People Who Sees God in All Things

  1. What do you understand the principle of sacramentality to mean?
  2. In what way is this principle foundational for Catholic education?
  3. Where has God ever surprised you in the context of Catholic education?
  4. How are children in your school being “lead to mystery”?
  5. How have children been a revelation of God to you?
  6. What examples of “hardening of the heart” have you encountered in Catholic schools? How have you/your school responded to these?

Chapter Two

Affirmation and Celebration of Life

  1. What is your understanding of the connection between a Catholic school and the Church? To what extent have you experienced this in your school?
  2. In what respects have you experienced the tension between being “task orientated” and being “mission-driven”? What were the implications for you? For your students? For your school community?
  3. How do you and your school “celebrate and affirm the belovedness of the children”?
  4. What experiences suggest to you that a Catholic school acknowledges sin and brokenness? How did you/your school respond to some of these?
  5. Give examples of practices that reveal that your school community speaks of the gift of salvation as a “non-negotiable part of our Christian commitment to affirm and celebrate life”?

Chapter Three

Faith That Refuses to Be Divorced From Life

  1. What is your understanding of “faith”?
  2. In what respects is faith both “informational” and “relational”?
  3. “We cannot give to others what we do not possess ourselves.” What are the implications of this for Catholic school communities?
  4. Why is it so important that faith permeate all aspects of the curricula and life of the school?
  5. How does your school community facilitate sharing about our personal relationships with God?

Chapter Four

Scripture and Tradition: The Sources from which Our Daily Faith is Fed

  1. What do you understand to be the relationship between “Scripture” and “Tradition”?
  2. What evidence is there that you appreciate the importance of proclaiming faithfully, in and out of season, the Good News?
  3. What experiences have you had where such a proclamation was not well received? What was your response?
  4. What experiences have you had of the power of God’s Word to transform people’s lives? Your life?
  5. In what respects does “neutrality” pose an obstacle to authentic Catholic education?
  6. How is your school “passionate” in sharing the person of Christ with the members of your community?

Chapter Five

Spirituality and Worship: Spirit and Truth Meet Flesh and Reality

  1. What is your understanding of “spirituality”?
  2. How does your Catholic school encourage members to “put a little flesh in their love”?
  3. What are the “four great hungers of the human heart”?
  4. What evidence is there of the presence of these hungers in your school community amongst any and all of the partners?
  5. How has your school community sought to address these four hungers?
  6. What have been some of the challenges? What have been some of the fruits of your efforts?

Chapter Six

Social Justice and Good Works: The Real Consequence of a Real Faith

  1. What has been your experience encountering the argument that Catholic schools need only be concerned about ethical instruction?
  2. What is your understanding of the relationship between “justice” and “charity”?
  3. What evidence is there of your school’s attentiveness to social justice in both the curriculum as well and in the overall life of the school?
  4. How have you experienced a narrowing of vision, a narrowing of concern or a narrowing of response with regard to the call of Catholic schools to “educate for justice”?
  5. How has educating for justice helped your school community to discover Christ in the unsuspected places? How has this presented challenges to the prevailing culture as well as to our own attitudes and lifestyles?

Chapter Seven

Church and Catholicity: Forming a Heart Big Enough for Christ

  1. Why does the Good News have to be “inculturated”?
  2. What are some practices within your school community that support inclusivity? Who benefits from these practices?
  3. How does your school community embrace collaboration between all of the partners? What are some of the challenges to doing this authentically?
  4. How do the practices of your school promote communion with the Church?
  5. What is your understanding of the Catholic school community’s responsibility to participate in the Church’s mission to evangelize? How is this manifest in your school?


  1. Discuss the aptness of the metaphor of Bethlehem as it relates to Catholic education.
  2. How do your experiences of weakness, of fatigue, of ill preparedness, of vulnerability or of anxiety actually create space for the transforming power of God’s grace in your life? In your school?
  3. How will the fruit borne of your discussions of this document be celebrated in your school community? What differences have they made at both the personal and community levels?
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