Spiritual development in Catholic schools

Chris Richardson

Schools are required to provide a spiritual as well as a moral, mental and physical education. This article reflects on what is meant by the spiritual and the ways in which schools can contribute to its development. Chris Richardson is a retired Catholic secondary headteacher and diocesan commissioner.

The importance of providing a spiritual education was enshrined in the 1944 Education Act, because 'spiritual' captured something that was generally accepted as important. What it meant was less clear, and it may have been its ambiguity that recommended it to the legislators. This ambiguity has increased over the years since the Act as many people turn away from a spirituality based on a religious belief and embrace an inner-life spirituality, searching for the authentic 'self' and personal transformation. How then are Catholic schools to characterise spirituality if they are to avoid simply reinforcing popular interpretations that either promote introspection and individualism or seek a vague 'life force'?

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