The fact that Jesus taught his disciples how to pray (Matt 6, Luke 11) teaches us a central truth about our faith: it is both a personal relationship with Christ and a method of teaching that faith.
The most recently-canonized Saint of the Catholic Church, John Henry Newman, knew first-hand from his experience as a 19th Century Oxford University Theology Professor just how easily the teachings of Jesus could be diluted and sentimentalized into what he termed “private opinion.” He courageously but unsuccessfully sought to return the Anglican Church to the classic Catholic understanding about the “objective dimensions” of Church teachings. He proposed what we Catholic evangelists and educators now know as “standards” by which the Catholic faith can be most authentically passed on to successive generations. Thus he is already known and loved by millions as the patron of Catholic University Ministry.
Newman’s pioneering vision for “integral human formation” was ultimately enshrined in the Second Vatican Council Declaration on Christian Education. Anticipating what was later developed by Pope St. John Paul II as an “adequate anthropology, “ Vatican II reminds us that “a true education aims at the formation of the whole human person in the pursuit of his ultimate end. i ”
Although parents are the first and best teachers of the Catholic faith, Canon law entrusts each Diocesan Bishop to assist parents in their task by creating Catholic schools and parish religious education programs. In this role the Diocesan Bishop and his Staff is ultimately responsible for ensuring that their educational standards are grounded in principles and best practices of Catholic doctrine.
We are blessed beyond measure that in 2016 our very own Archbishop Dennis Schnurr in Cincinnati became the first Catholic Bishop to revise his Religious Education Standards, known as the Graded Course of Study, to require that Theology of the Body be taught in his schools and parish religious education programs! So committed is he to teaching this old-yet-new biblical vision of the human person that he has recommended his brother Bishops in the USCCB do the same, inviting them to consider the Ruah Woods Press’ ROOTED: K-12 Theology of the Body Curriculum.
Realizing that not all Arch/Diocesan Bishops and Chanceries will have the staff resources of time and personnel to create these standards, Ruah Woods Press has graciously created the world’s first Draft Standards for teaching Theology of the Body. Ruah Wood Press’s own Dr. Joan Kingsland, with collaboration from professional Catholic educators, has created a set of TOB Standards that can be implemented or adapted by any Catholic diocese.
These Standards will be much appreciated by Catholic educators, providing key themes, scope and sequences by which this beautiful vision of the human person can best be proposed in grades K-8. These Standards have not yet been “rolled out,” but are very close. They will eventually be reviewed by Catholic superintendents, teachers and parents.
Ruah Woods Press is blessed to have Archbishop Schnurr’s visionary leadership, and Dr. Kingsland’s theological expertise in developing this beautiful “road map” for all Catholic Arch/Dioceses discern how to better propose the teachings of Jesus and His Church to our children and families.
i Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis (Vatican II, October 28, 1965 )
By, Fr. Tom Wray, Chaplain for Ruah Woods Press
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