Stephen J. McKinney and Stuart T. Hall

Catholic schools in Scotland have a long and successful history of caring for the poor, whether it is material, emotional or spiritual poverty. This article examines the success of a nurture group initiative in Trinity High School in South Lanarkshire in Scotland.  The nurture group cares for some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the school in ways that are consistent with the local, national and international vision of the aims of a Catholic school. Stephen J. McKinney and Stuart T. Hall are from the School of Education, University of Glasgow.

There are many important aims of contemporary Catholic schools. An aim that is often highlighted is the care for the poor and this can be traced back to the Vatican II era. Section nine of Gravissimum Educationis (1965) focuses on the role of Catholic schools in caring for the needs of the poor:

This Sacred Council of the Church earnestly entreats pastors and all the faithful to spare no sacrifice in helping Catholic schools fulfill their function in a continually more perfect way, and especially in caring for the needs of those who are poor in the goods of this world or who are deprived of the assistance and affection of a family or who are strangers to the gift of Faith.1

Gerald Grace in Catholic Schools. Mission, Markets and Morality (2002) refers to this as one of the great strengths of contemporary Catholic schools:

…showing a preferential option for the poor in ethnically mixed and poor urban communities’ (p.113).2

In the same work, he refers to the ‘Catholic schools’ principle of preferential option for the poor’ (p.181). This preferential option for the poor can be expressed in various ways: care for the materially poor, care for those who experience emotional poverty and care for the spiritually poor.

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Category: July/August 2016