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Franciscan Friary
St. Francis Str. 1
Jerusalem



The Custody
is present in:
Israel / Palestine
Jordan
Syria
Lebanon
Egypt
Cyprus
Greece

Buenos Aires
Milan
Naples
Palermo
Rome
Madrid
Washington

and
Commissariates
in various
countries
all around
the world


Terra Sancta Schools
- The Church and religious education -
A SERVICE OF THE CUSTODY OF THE HOLY LAND

by Fr. Halim Nujaim ofm

The official educational institutions in the Middle East emphasize religious education but not for all members of society. In Israel, the official schools teach religious education to Jews and Moslems. Likewise, the majority of Arab countries teach religious education to Moslem students only, neglecting the rights of Christians. For this reason, there had to be schools, such as the Terra Sancta schools, to cover this deficiency in the educational systems in the Middle East.

Our schools give religious instruction for every student according to his particular religious convictions recognizing the right of each individual to maintain his own faith. We attempt in our schools to shun religious fanaticism while at the same time encouraging piety. For us, testifying for Christ means living our Christian life at school. We believe that the weakness of one of us: Moslems or Christians, does not mean the strength of the other, but the contrary, it strengthens the deviation from both Christians and Moslems

We realize that we are a minority in this region of the Middle East. Yet, our minority still has deep historical roots in this region and we are committed in seeing that it does not vanish from our midst. For this area to flourish and develop the only alternative is for Moslems, Christians and Jews to live side by side in mutual respect. Promoting proper religious education for all peoples of this society will contribute towards peace, and understanding. The school thus becomes a model of coexistence among individuals embracing different religious convictions. Hence, every individual hopefully learns to accept and respect both their similarities and differences of one another. Through equality, citizens, whether they belonged to the minority or to the majority, become equal before the law.


assembly

At the assemly

As the school is a microcosm of local society, so should the Terra Sancta school become, in a way a small church for the local society. It should become a link between them. It certainly is an appropriate tool for dialogue between the church and the people and plays a principle role in communicating the church's message to its hearers. It is no wonder, therefore, that the church bestows a great importance upon the school. That is why the church always expects the state to respect its right and establishing the number of schools it deems appropriate for securing the religious education for all their students. It is the right and duty of the church to teach religious education to its children whether they are enrolled in Christian schools and universities or not. The primary duty of the church is to direct people in the way of salvation through the teaching of religion, which not only enhances and strengthens the faith, but also helps them to understand about their world, their life, and about themselves.

Our schools contribute in the understanding of the new world order because education is one of the most important missions that can be performed by a school for the service of society. The Christian education aims at educating the youth in order to help them reach Christian human maturity through the various stages of their faith. In other words, the purpose of religious education is to make the youth aware of the gift of faith.

The Terra Sancta schools emphasize the religious vision of the reality of life and attempts to provide a comprehensive education in all its dimensions and values. Therefore, it is the duty of these schools to secure a close harmony and coordination between faith and culture, between faith and life. In this way, faith does not dominate culture nor does it exploit it for its educational aims. Similarly, culture should not swallow or exploit faith for its own aims in this respect. On the contrary, there should be coexistence, harmony, and cooperation between the two in order to achieve the welfare of man. One will enrich the other.


classroom

In the classroom

Achieving such a harmony and cooperation today between culture and faith, is not an easy matter, because of the strong tendency towards secularism which attempts to present the religious values as only marginal and void of all meaning. In some instances, there are some extreme religious sects which actually diminish religious values through their methology a methology devoid of real meaning and goals.

Terra Sancta schools are distinguished by their call to faith, and if ever lost will consequently lose their identity and the reason for existence. Why?... because, they will lose the source of their inspiration the main support and the feature which distinguishes them from the rest of the educational, cultural and social institutions. They will simply disappear and vanish.

It is evident then that the religious vision represented in the call for freedom, justice, and work in achieving supreme religious values has been and still is one of the greatest and most noble educational aims in our schools. This religious aim must acquire special importance in this age where there is so much stress in the competitive economic, material and professional aspects of life. Our schools, however, have opted towards the opposite direction. We are more interested in providing a comprehensive human education within the spiritual, social and cultural arenas


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Created / Updated Friday, 15 April, 2005 at 7:11:11 am by J. Abela, E.Alliata, E.Bermejo, Marina Mordin
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