Mayo Sligo Leitrim ETB schools help Catholic Church to evangelise students, teachers and principals
After a successful crowdfunding campaign, Atheist Ireland has been able to meet the high Freedom of Information fees being charged by the ETB Sector, in order to access public documents (much of which should already have been published by the ETBs on their websites). The more ETBs that we look at around the country, the more we see the same pattern.
We have found that in many cases, ETB schools are just as Catholic as the denominational schools that are directly managed by the Catholic Church. In fact, the same structure of Diocesan Advisors that the Church uses to ensure Catholic evangelisation takes place within the schools under their direct patronage, are often able to direct ETB schools in the same way.
The email illustrated below was sent by a Diocesan Advisor to the principal of a school under the patronage of Mayo Sligo Leitrim ETB. It refers to the Catholic Faith & Life Celebration for 5th Year Students in Knock, to which the school had sent some of their students.
The Faith & Life Celebration run by the Diocese of Elphin is an annual event for 5th Year Students. It has included a number of activities, including programs operated by NET Ministries Ireland. This is a team of missionaries with an explicit goal of evangelisation. So not only do Mayo Sligo Leitrim ETB schools engage with Catholic Diocesan Advisors in much the same way as any Catholic school would, but they also arrange for the evangelisation of their students through this process.
This engagement with Catholic Diocesan Advisors is not limited to just the students in ETB schools either. The email illustrated below is from a Diocesan Advisor to the principal of an ETB school. The email includes an invitation for the principal to attend a Faith Development event, along with five ETB students. As an added inducement to participate, those attending were offered an exciting opportunity to appear in a photograph with Bishop Kevin Doran! The principal accepted the invitation.
The ETB Sector presents itself as an alternative to the denominational schools that are managed directly by religious patrons. Non-designated ETB schools are fully State-funded and fully State-managed. They have no denominational patron at all and they have no more obligation to the Catholic Church than any other religious or secular group.
However, while non-religious parents may view such a management model as attractive, they are not told that the principals of many ETB schools seem to view part of their role as acting in the service of the Catholic Church. The letter below was sent by a Diocesan Advisor to the principal of another school under the patronage of Mayo Sligo Leitrim ETB.
Links to other documents
Atheist Ireland obtained more documents under this FOI request than those that this article refers to. Here are links to some of the documents that we obtained from Mayo Sligo Leitrim ETB.
The numbers refer to the sequence in which Mayo Sligo Leitrim ETB numbered the pages that they sent to us. Some documents have more than one page: where this is the case, the file number is that of the first page of the document.