Recently Bob Dixon and Sharon Bonds, both commissioned by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, published a research project about Catholic school teachers inAustralia.
As many of our children attend Catholic schools it may be of interest to you to better understand these teachers. 1,760 Catholic school teachers from acrossAustraliaanswered the survey. I will try to keep my opinions to myself and will just advise you of what our researchers found out. You can think about and discuss the results for yourself.
Who are these teachers? The average age seems to be 46 years old. 74% are women and 82% of them are Australian born. Just over half of them were full time teachers. 76% of them were in their first marriage; 9% were widowed and 70% had university level qualifications.
Those who went to Mass were generally very happy about their spiritual experience at church on Sundays. About a quarter of them said that the preaching was helpful to them. About 75% of these Catholic teachers took an active part in parish life i.e. readers, singers, parish councils. The teachers also stated that just less than half of them were involved in parish decision making processes. A lot more teachers took part in decision making than did other parishioners.
The research which has now lasted over 15 years has shown that fewer and fewer teachers rate their parish life as very or extremely important in their lives. They are also quite critical of what the parishes offer young people.
Our teachers do not tend to like the traditional style of worship or music; they value the parish school, practical help for the poor and the needy and a contemporary style of music and ministry to children.
Catholic teachers are very active in many community based groups. They help others outside the parish more so than do the regular parishioners. They are more likely to visit hospitals, give money or work with charities. However, they are not that supportive of the teaching authority of the church, only 20%. About half of other parishioners support traditional church teachings.
Only 5% take the Bible literally. Most believe that the Word of God should be interpreted in the light of its historical and cultural context and in line with what the church teaches.
60% of these teachers pray at least a few times during the week. 67% of them feel at ease when speaking about their beliefs.
In general, our teachers are very involved in parish life. They love their church and are likely to be disappointed when they see that things are not right.
Perhaps we should become better acquainted with our Catholic school teachers.