Chaplaincy is an ancient ministry and an emerging profession in many communities and institutions in Britain today. Prisons, hospitals, universities and military chaplaincies are all in a process of rapid development of the chaplaincy role. School chaplaincy too is in the process of changing from a clerical to a largely lay ministry at a time of tension between a secular and a faith based approach to learning. This time of change creates an opportunity to rethink and focus chaplaincy so that it can penetrate the veneer of secular thinking and reach down into the richer roots of the Christian tradition in new ways.
St Martin of Tours
The story of chaplaincy could be said to have started at the gate to the city of Amiens in 337CE. A young soldier in the Roman army was walking into the city during a bitterly cold winter. The crowds were hurrying past a half naked beggar who was close to death. Martin, unpaid and having only his military uniform, stopped and looked at the man who looked back at him expectantly with hand outstretched. After a slight hesitation Martin took out his sword and then removed his cloak and sliced it through the middle giving one half to the man and using the other half to cover himself again.
His cloak, or half a cloak, became a precious object in military and royal circles. It became a spiritual symbol for the whole community. The cloak was used in the taking of oaths and was carried into battle and came to symbolise all that was best in humanity, a symbol of the spiritual dignity of each person and a powerful reminder of the need to seek God in ordinary things. The cloak was called a “capella” a cape. It was kept in a tent or in building that also came to be called a “cappella” or chapel. The person assigned to look after this sacred relic was called the “capellano” or chaplain. The chaplain would control access to the sacred symbol and organise prayers and ceremonies for the community to celebrate the spirituality it signified. These were the first people to be called chaplains. They began firstly in the army, then in royal courts later in hospitals and more recently in education.
Some reference points
Can. 564 A chaplain is a priest to whom is entrusted in a stable manner the pastoral care, at least in part, of some community or special group of Christ's faithful, to be exercised in accordance with universal and particular law.
Can. 565 Unless the law provides otherwise or unless special rights lawfully belong to someone, a chaplain is appointed by the local Ordinary, to whom also it belongs to appoint one who has been presented or to confirm one elected.
Can. 566 §1 A chaplain must be given all the faculties which due pastoral
care demands. Besides those which are given by particular law or by special delegation, a chaplain has by virtue of his office the faculty to hear the confessions of the faithful entrusted to his care, to preach to them the word of God, to administer Viaticum and the anointing of the sick, and to confer the sacrament of confirmation when they are in danger of death.§2 In hospitals and prisons and on sea voyages, a chaplain has the further facility, to be exercised only in those places, to absolve from latae sententiae censures which are neither reserved nor declared, without prejudice to can. 976.
Can. 567 §1 The local Ordinary is not to proceed to the appointment of a
chaplain to a house of a lay religious institute without consulting the Superior. The Superior has the right, after consulting the community, to propose a particular priest.§2 It is the responsibility of the chaplain to celebrate or to direct liturgical functions; he may not, however, involve himself in the internal governance of the institute.
The work of a chaplain in school is focused to a large extent on the needs of young people. Therefore the principles of youth ministry, as expressed in the Bishop’s document “Called to a noble adventure” form another reference point for the work of a chaplain in school. This vision statement emphasizes the need to accompany young people on a journey of faith and allow them to find in chaplains especially a genuine and tangible faith. Here are the main goals of youth ministry for our church.
Youth ministry fosters the complete personal and spiritual growth of each young person, acknowledging their specific needs in our society.
Youth ministry calls young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in the world today, rooted in the living tradition of our church/
Youth ministry enables young people to participate fully in the life of the Catholic community, recognizing the intrinsic value of youth and all that it has to offer the church.
Catholic school is a place of integral education of the human person through a clear educational project of which Christ is the foundation; it’s ecclesial and cultural identity; its mission of education as a work of love; its service to society; the traits which should characterize the educating community.[ii]
+ leaders and staff understand, and are solidly committed to, the Catholic identity of the school
+ the Religious Education (RE) curriculum is sound, attractive and professionally taught by teachers with appropriate RE qualifications
+ other disciplines also consider the Catholic dimension of their subject areas
+ schools are Eucharistic communities within the parish context where, as far as possible, students regularly take part in Mass and Reconciliation
+ schools continue to be places of prayer, including prayer at assemblies, in classes and in other staff and student meetings, where practices are encouraged such as Scripture reflections, the Angelus, Eucharistic adoration and prayerful silences
+ schools are places cultivating a Catholic imagination, where prayer and liturgy are supported by a Catholic visual culture, including crucifixes and pictures of Our Lady and the saints
+ schools are connected to their local parishes and diocese, through inviting the periodic presence of the bishop, clergy, religious and parents in the school, and through active collaboration with the wider Catholic community
+ families and parishes support their schools in these important endeavours.
John Paul II
Living the life of Jesus Christ implies…a living spirituality and authentic morality, strengthened by the word of God in Scripture and celebrated in the Sacraments of the Church. When Christians live the life of Christ with deeper faith, their hope grows stronger and their charity more radiant. The present generation of Christians is called and sent now to accomplish a new evangelisation, a fresh proclamation of the enduring truth. This call to mission poses great challenges, but it also opens new horizons, full of hope and even a sense of adventure. [iii]
Implications for schools- An example from Australia
+ the life and activity in the school would be the context for a personal encounter with Christ and would promote, and never contradict, the teachings of the Church
+ all those involved in our schools would appreciate their roles in receiving and proclaiming the Good News by word and deed, and by the example of their lives
+ students would participate in RE classes, liturgies, retreats and prayers which are, as far as possible, tailored to their place in the journey of faith, addressing the core of our faith and inviting a response
+ special programs would be developed for students who first enter a Catholic school later than Kindergarten (for instance in Year 7) and may not have received much prior religious education
+ schools would work with their local parish(es) to establish programs for initiating children and young adults into the Church
+ other efforts would be pursued to integrate the activity of our primary and secondary schools with the life of the surrounding parish(es) and diocese, so that our young people are given a sense of belonging to a wider Church beyond their family and school
+ consideration would be given to the desirability of establishing Catholic pre-schools, with catechesis appropriate to this crucial stage in faith formation
+ every effort would be made to engage our students and young teachers in preparations for, participation in and enrichment after major religious events[iv]
The celebration of the liturgy in school is governed by the general instructions of the roman missal. But in a context where most of the participants are young and many are unused to regular celebration of the Eucharist other guidelines need to be taken into account. The key document is the directory on children’s masses. The diocese of Leeds points out in its own directory that the directory can also apply to youth..[v]
Here is one section from the directory.
22 The principles of active and conscious participation are in a sense even more significant for Masses celebrated with children. For this reason as many children as possible should have special parts in the celebration: for example, preparing the place and the altar (see no. 29), acting as cantor (see no. 24), singing in a choir, playing musical instruments (see no. 32), proclaiming the readings (see nos. 24 and 47), responding during the homily (see no. 48), reciting the intentions of the general intercessions, bringing the gifts to the altar, and performing similar activities in accord with the usage of various peoples (see no. 34). To encourage participation, it will also sometimes be helpful to have several additions, for example, the insertion of motives for giving thanks before the priest begins the dialogue of the preface. In all this, it should be kept in mind that external activities will remain fruitless and even harmful if they do not serve the internal participation of the children. Thus sacred silence has its importance even in Masses with children (see no. 37). These things should be attended to with great care so that the children do not forget that all the forms of participation reach their high point in Eucharistic communion, when the body and blood of Christ are received as spiritual nourishment.21
In the organisation of the Church, the Bishop is the „first teacher‟ in the diocese with responsibility for the formation and education of his people, with particular responsibilities in schools. Canon 804:1 The formation and education in the catholic religion provided in any school* …is subject to the authority of the Church. Canon 803:3 No school*, even if it is in fact catholic, may bear the title „catholic school‟ except by the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority. Canon 806:1 The diocesan bishop has the right to watch over and inspect the catholic schools* situated in his territory, even those established or directed by members of religious institutes.
Diocesan inspection fulfils both the canonical and statutory responsibilities of the Bishop with regard to all schools and colleges in his Diocese. · Diocesan school inspection seeks to support and promote an authentic Catholic vision of education. This education inspires and enables the development of children and young people within the context of a real partnership between home, school and parish. · It works to ensure that all schools and colleges accept the privileges and responsibilities of being Catholic schools in the Diocese and work together to build a diocesan community of schools, united in a common purpose. The inspection focus also works to make secure and accurate judgements on standards.
Christ at the centre- An example of evaluation criteria applied to chaplaincy
1 Being in the service of the Catholic Church (Instrument of Government)
2 Sharing a mission and vision (Mission Statement)
3 Faithful stewardship (Governance) Foundation governors
4 Personal witness (Leadership and Management)
5 Communion in the family of the Church (Partnership and collaboration)
6 The religious literacy and understanding of pupils (Religious Education and the whole curriculum)
7 The development of the spiritual life (Liturgy and prayer)
8 Encouraging the full potential of every person (Promotion of a Culture of Vocation)
9 The spiritual care of pupils and staff (Chaplaincy) School chaplains
10 The Gospel of life and the dignity of the human person (Pastoral care, support and guidance)
11 The promotion of justice and peace
12 Moral and ethical behaviour (Code of Conduct) Catholic moral teaching
13 The learning environment (School buildings and physical signs of a spiritual environment)
[i] Department of Evangelisation and Catechesis CBCEW available on CYMFED web site resources
[ii] The Catholic School on the threshold of the new millennium (4)
[iii] (Ecclesia in Oceania 2001, 8 and 13)
[iv] Schools at the crossroads Bishops of NSW