Witness to the Wider Community

 

Christians are called to give witness to the beliefs and values of the Catholic Christian tradition and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. The Catholic school, as part of the evangelising mission of the Church, witnesses to the wider community through its physical presence and authentic proclamation of the gospel in word and action.

In responding to the call in Matthew’s Gospel (28:19) to “therefore, go and make disciples of all nations”, the Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge (2013) proclaimed:

More clearly and urgently than ever Jesus is saying this to the Church now - not just to some in the Church but to the whole Church, including young people. Young people are not just the missionaries of the future; they are the missionaries of now. Just as Jesus called the rich young man to follow him, he is calling young people now. Just as St Paul chose the young Timothy to be one of the leaders of his missionary team (Acts 16:1-3), so young people are being chosen now.

 

The Greek word for witness, martus, gave us the English word ‘martyr’, meaning one who voluntarily suffers for the sake of their faith or in defence of some virtue. In Christianity, the word ‘witness’ means that the believer gives testimony to their faith in Jesus Christ and his gospel in all their thoughts, words and deeds, even at the cost of personal sacrifice, indifference or hostility on the part of others.

Catholic and ecumenical school communities are called to be counter-cultural in witnessing to Christian beliefs and values. Such witness will at times challenge the dominant social culture and come at some cost to the school community. In seeking to witness to the broader community, schools face the challenge of relating to those who do not necessarily share the understandings and life-patterns of Christians. Christian witness challenges school communities to negotiate the tension of maintaining Christian integrity while engaging respectfully with the reality of peo​ple’s lives and the different stages of their journeys in faith.​

The school, by its very physical presence within the local community, can provide a positive witness to gospel values. The care and maintenance of facilities, the presence of religious iconography and symbols, the conduct of students and staff and the school’s capacity to make connections with local agencies all contribute to its evangelising witness.​

Witness to the Wider Community Document Library​

Elaborations