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Catholic Primary Education - do i want this for DS

(95 Posts)
YokoOhNo Mon 26-Sep-11 09:49:02

DH is a practicing Catholic and went to Catholic school. I was baptised and went to church as a child, but I'm basically agnostic, although I do appreciate the Christian message of "love thy neighbour" and the church as something that binds the community.

Briefly, the local Catholic primary school is excellent and DH wants DS (7 months) to be baptised Catholic so he can do there. I have been to a few services at the church with DH and DS, which is very friendly and the priest is lovely and, obviously, I am keen to get DS into a good school, but I'm hesitating.

While I have no problem with a Christian ethos in education, I have a issues with many of the formal teachings of the Catholic church on homosexuality, contraception, priestly celebacy etc, and what I feel are the more hocus pocus aspects such as pilgrimages to Lourdes etc (I don't mean to offend, just state my view). DH says I'm being daft, that he is RC, that DS's education is too important not to baptise him and "hardly any Catholics believe half that stuff anyway" and that I should get over my concerns.

DS was an IVF baby and we want to be very open about that with him, but the Catholic church is critical of assisted conception. His lovely aunt is a lesbian. I would hate him to feel criticised or upset.

I suppose what I'm asking is, are my doubts rediculous? Do Catholic primary schools mainly teach the "Jesus is love" message and have nativity plays and carol services, or does it go much deeper into some of the more controversial aspects.

mrsruffallo Mon 26-Sep-11 09:55:24

I doubt that any of the worrying aspects would be taught in primary school. As long as you keep talking openly to DS about your own agnostic views, he should gain a balanced outlook as well as an excellent education.

PorkChopSter Mon 26-Sep-11 10:49:17

Separate the 'baptism into church' from 'baptism to get DC into school'

Doing it just to get into school - well, what will you do for first holy communion? Because he'll need to do that to get into the RC secondary school ....

ByTheWay Mon 26-Sep-11 10:54:34

Catholic school certainly used to be a drip drip indoctrination into the tenets of the church... don't know if it still is... I hated it - the continual be thankful to Jesus stuff really got to me and I am now an atheist.

pud1 Mon 26-Sep-11 10:56:53

Feeling the same about dd1. Oh went to catholic school and has grown up in the faith. I am not at all religious. Oh feels strongly about dd going to local catholic school and i feel like I don't have a reasonable argument against it.

meditrina Mon 26-Sep-11 11:01:08

Baptism is a sacrament which cannot be repeated, and so is recognised between Christian denominations.

You might be over thinking this - your DH wants his child baptised into the Christian faith - something to which you do not object. That baptism can later lead to actual practice in any denomination. It seems sensible to have DS baptised at the Church where one of you practises.

What faith your family follows can be sorted out in slower time, and in consultation with the relevant ministers.

Entry to schools is not dependent solely on baptism - you will probably need a priest!s reference about your attendance too. So it is something you need to sort out. But it need not be a barrier to a baptism now.

MrsBlarney Mon 26-Sep-11 11:33:14

the Catholic school I went to was insanely obsessed with church and Jesus and nearly everything we did was religious in some way.

That was in the 70s and 80s.

It never went very deep. You may not find your ds comes up against anything at all related to assisted conception or homosexuality. OTOH things might have changed.

Whatever the situation I know from my experiences that I would not trust my children's education to a Catholic school with Catholic funding and so on.
Sorry if that offends any Catholics but it would appear from those still involved with the school that there is stuff going on with all that which isnt, well, very Godly.

MrsBlarney Mon 26-Sep-11 11:35:32

I should add I'm fully lapsed...never go to church, can't stand the fakery around it having been so entrenched in the whole set up from an early age. The teachers and priests contained among them some of the worst examples of humanity I have ever known.

HerdOfTinyElephants Mon 26-Sep-11 12:05:13

Homosexuality, contraception and priestly celibacy are unlikely to come up at primary level (priestly celibacy might in a low-key tangential way when they study the sacraments, but TBH they don't do much more than cover ordination in passing). If you are agnostic rather than atheist, you are happy with the the "Jesus is love"/nativity plays/carol service aspects, and you don't mind your DS receiving confession and communion once he gets to Y3 or so, then I doubt there would be anything in a Catholic primary education to bother you.

MrsBlarney Mon 26-Sep-11 12:08:59

We prayed about 7 times a day, as well...and sang hymns every day, and went to church every week during school time and had mass at school.

It was full on.

YokoOhNo Mon 26-Sep-11 12:27:32

The school is in London. We've only just moved to the area and I haven't spoken to other parents yet to work out how doctrinal the school is. The other schools are generally rubbish. DS goes to mass every so often, more now he wants a Catholic education for DS. The priest is nice and down to earth - I don't get a feeling of a Latin mass zealot. Like pud, it's hard to work out my feelings.

My views are also skewed by MIL who works at a Catholic primary in another part of the country and is enthralled by all the hells, bells and smells. The head there is pretty old school and there's a school trip to Lourdes every year, and lots of stuff about sins and the suffering of the saints which, as I said above, is the stuff I find difficult.

Meditrina has a good point about baptism being a sacrament and seperate. DS certainly thinks I'm over thinking it.

YokoOhNo Mon 26-Sep-11 12:30:38

Hmmm, MrsBlarney that's my fear.

I also know that MIL will be beyond THRILLED if if DS is baptised as a Catholic and we'll start getting holy trinkets in the post (he's already got a cross blessed by father so-and-so from some holy shrine)

meditrina Mon 26-Sep-11 12:31:59

It would be the way of keeping your options open, and delaying the harder decisions, though you will have to grasp the nettle at some point.

I come from a family that is half RC and half Protestant, so tend to see the commonalities, not the differences.

Tyr Mon 26-Sep-11 12:35:04

I would resist it. If your OH's religion has anything to offer your child, he'll discover it of his own accord when he's old enough to think for himself. He won't and that is why they insist on shoving it down the throats of little children.
Are there other good PS's in the area?

MrsBlarney Mon 26-Sep-11 12:35:10

Yikes grin

The MIL does sound a bit like my experiences, but the school you're considering might be far from that and I don't know how much things have moved on generally since I was a child.

The only way is to go and see it.

WhoresHairKnickers Mon 26-Sep-11 12:45:28

They do pray every day. They say grace and they give thanks at the end of the day. They don't have mass every week as it was in 'my day' and actually, I loved doing that.
I was brought up Catholic by a Catholic Dad and a High Church of England Mum.

My Ds went to Catholic primary school. He refuses to go to mass now at 13 and attends a grammar school. He still considers himself Christian, but does not want to be involved in the church any longer.
Dd has just started in reception at the Catholic primary...we shall see how she is with it.
I stopped going to mass during my teen years, but that was more to do with disliking the priest than anything else.
In the main, I like the Catholic school ethos, but it's personal choice.
Good education though.

WhoresHairKnickers Mon 26-Sep-11 12:47:41

Should add that I'm not a particularly good Catholic these days.

WhoresHairKnickers Mon 26-Sep-11 12:51:44

Whatever the situation I know from my experiences that I would not trust my children's education to a Catholic school with Catholic funding and so on.
Sorry if that offends any Catholics but it would appear from those still involved with the school that there is stuff going on with all that which isnt, well, very Godly.
Can you explain what you mean here MrsBlarney please?

sunnyday123 Mon 26-Sep-11 13:35:19

i am not catholic but attended catholic schools and my DD is in a catholic primary school and would agree you may be over worrying about it. I am CofE and my DH is RC and neither of us go to church but we always said we would support our DC in whatever faith we decided to raise them. For us the school issue was the deciding factor- many may not agree but we did choose RC for the schools and have no regrets! The alternative was oversubscribed community schools which we had no chance of getting in (their appears to be a 'trend' for people to side against religious schools and as such the community schools are very hard to get into now.) or a rubbish CofE (still religious so why not go for RC which fed to a great high school). Whilst the schools teach the whole love thy neighbour and jesus etc i have found they don't preach the things you mentioned and if they do it will be much later when they are old enough to look at the bigger picture.

Most schools near me select only on baptism - no mention of church attendance or priest reference although it may depend on area but we didnt have to pretend to go to church or anything. The most important thing is that you feel you can support your child in the faith. We baptised our DD RC and as such fully support the school, its teachings and attend most of the larger events at church. I'm not sure i would send a child to a cathollic school if i couldnt do that as they themselves could miss out on things their friends are involved in.

sunnyday123 Mon 26-Sep-11 13:36:29

oh i may add that in my experience this type of thread usually turns into a religious argument with people slating each others faiths- take what info you need and ignore the rest!!! smile

WhoresHairKnickers Mon 26-Sep-11 13:45:29

I think most Catholic schools insist on the Parish Priest signing an extra form to confirm that you attend church regularly. I put on my form that I attend at least every 3 weeks. The PP crossed it out and ticked 'every week' as he said Dd wouldn't get in on anything else. I actually have a feeling he did that to try to put some ethnic balance into the school year as the majority of children are African.

YokoOhNo Mon 26-Sep-11 14:18:49

Can I ask one question - does it matter when DS was baptised? Do the selectors look at the age/date, even secretly? The criteria I read doesn't mention it, but DS is 7 months already and it's likely to be a few months yet, if we do opt for baptism. I know of one catholic (secondary) school where the entrance criteria is "baptised within 3 months of birth" and requires a catholic marriage certificate too.

The school is very over subscribed.

whoreshairknickers - The entrance criteria requires a parish priest reference, which means regular church attendence in addition to baptism. We are in the parish/catchment area, but it is very over subscribed due the the remaining schools in the area being rubbish. Interesting MIL's school in another part of the country only selects on DC baptism - i.e. no church attendence required

sunnyday - I'm concious being supportive of the school. If we opt for the catholic education for DS it's only right that there is parental support and he doesn't miss out on what his peers are doing. I suppose that's why I'm in two minds - if the school is very doctrinal and dogmatic, I'd feel ambivalent and I already feel a bit meh about all the rigmarole around first communion. As I say, DS's special auntie is gay and another close friend, honorary auntie, is a lady priest and I beleive that access to contraception is a basic human right

tyr - there are good private schools in the area (I assume that's what you mean by PS) and we could just about afford to send DS there. But DH is dead against it. The financial stretch and he's not a fan of private eduation and at the moment I'm a SAHM

It's been good to chew over my thoughts and hear your experiences

wigglesrock Mon 26-Sep-11 14:33:55

My children go to Catholic school, although we are in NI - so that's a completely different kettle of fish grin. If its any help, we have lots of gay friends and relations and dd1 (she's now in her 3rd year) has not had any negative teaching as yet. Lots of her friends do too, there's even a gay couple that we go to Mass with shock. All my dds were baptised really early, at around 8-12 weeks but as far as I'm aware there isn't an "upward limit".

There's no priest reference or attendance or anything required for enrolment, just baptism certificate. In fact most people I do know start attending mass regularly in the run up to first Confession which you will need before First Communion.

My dd3 is 7 months old as well, its scary to be thinking of school when they're so little isn't it grin

YokoOhNo Mon 26-Sep-11 14:59:25

I wanted to comment on porkchopster's point too, about not baptising DS just to get into school. In all honesty, for me, baptism would just be to get DS into a good school. But from DH's point of view it would be about baptising DS into his RC faith, which DH is keen on.

Pre-children and marriage, we discussed it and agreed that any DCs would be able to make up their own mind and we probably wouldn't baptise them. That was before we moved into an area where you are significantly educationally disadvantaged if you don't baptise your children.

As an aside, I don't like the system and I want to play the pretend-we-are-holy game. I want to make a good decision for my son and then follow it.

MrsBlarney Mon 26-Sep-11 16:22:27

Yes I can explain what I mean, WHK though I'd rather you hadn't put that long quote from me in bold, I didn't want it to stand out quite so much as you've made it.

I mean that the school I attended and of which I know some of the staff now is subject to church funding, and there are some question marks over how this is administrated (I cannot go into further detail).

When I was at the school there were various circumstances involving the teachers and priests which I shan't go into on a public forum but perhaps enough to say that it demonstrated to me that being a Catholic school did not guarantee good role models or leadership by people who cared one jot about God or his works.

I hope that clarifies somewhat. It doesn't mean all Catholics or Catholic schools are as corrupt. But this was my experience and as such I am since that time extremely cynical.

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