Principal Lecturer and Programme Director of the MA in Catholic School Leadership at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, Dr John Lydon delivered a keynote address at an International Conference on Teaching Catholic Social Ethics and Civic Education at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in March 2017.
His paper, entitled Religious Education in Catholic schools in England and Wales, focused on the Religious Education Curriculum Directory (2012), which states unequivocally “the primary purpose of Catholic Religious Education is to come to know and understand God’s revelation which is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.”
Commenting on this invitation Dr Lydon, who was recently appointed Adjunct Professor of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana said: “I feel privileged to have been invited to present a keynote address at a Conference focusing on one of the key concerns for education in general and Catholic education in particular.
“Networking with a range of distinguished academics across four continents will enhance the reputation of St Mary’s as a Catholic University at the cutting edge of debates around the teaching of Religious Education in a contemporary context in which Christianity is no longer the horizon of meaning for many young people.”
Moving from “curriculum to the person of the teacher” the paper discussed the challenge of the sacramental perspective, namely, that the RE teacher in particular should model his or her ministry on that of Christ, reflecting the value of witness which constitutes a pervasive theme of the Congregation for Catholic Education’s 1988 document, reflected in its assertion that “the effectiveness of religious instruction is closely tied to the personal witness given by the teacher; this witness is what brings the content of the lessons to life.”
This witness is ever more vital in an era when “believing without belonging” represents a defining characteristic of many Catholic families. The paper then discussed a number of challenges to “the centrality of RE” including the hegemony of performativity in the educational discourse and the rich diversity of religious practice found in modern Britain. The paper concluded by proposing positive shoots of renewal in an era of profound changes across the educational spectrum.
Dr Lydon is the only European academic invited to present at a Conference which included representatives from Catholic and other Universities from across the globe including:
- Lingnang University Hong Kong
- Chinese University of Hong Kong
- Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology Berkeley CA USA
- University of Waikato New Zealand
- Australian Catholic University
- Fordham University USA
- Macau Ricci Institute
- Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram India
Dr John Lydon joined St Mary’s University in 2002. He is currently the Programme Director for the MA in Catholic School Leadership, Co-Director of the CCRS Programme and Deputy Director for the Centre for Research and Development in Catholic Education (CRDCE). He is also Assistant Editor for the International Studies in Catholic Education journal.