High School Religion Teachers’ Conference Addresses Challenges of Pluralism

December 9, 2005

Source: Tidings


On December 9, 2005 the Tidings reported, "Teaching religion to high school students requires prophetic imagination in this competitive age of 'freeze-dried' faith, said Michael Horan, Loyola Marymount University theology professor and keynote speaker at the second annual [Secondary Department of Catholic Schools religion teachers' conference day] held Dec. 2 at St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower. Addressing 132 secondary religion teachers on the topic, 'Teaching the Future Tense to the Present: Challenges of Fostering Faith in Young People Today,' Horan highlighted tensions on church and campus turf as well as blessings within the vocation. 'Healthy tensions help us to grow,' said Horan. 'Unhealthy tensions are difficult and need to be acknowledged... According to Horan, 'healthy' tensions affecting faith-building in the classroom include the 'I'm spiritual but not religious' cultural mentality... On campus, Horan noted healthy tension also exists between discipleship and academics, where a minority of religion teachers are expected to shepherd a majority of staff and students to holiness. Unhealthy tensions identified by Horan include... a 'green card' approach to faith, where card-carrying, sacramentalized Catholics don't feel compelled to participate in establishing the 'reign of God' in the present... Speaking after the lunch break, Father Smith urged the teachers to embrace the spirit of Nostra Aetate [which is a Catholic doctrine in support of interreligious dialogue]. 'There are so many ways you can foster ecumenism,' he said, offering his assistance to arrange speakers and field trips to interfaith houses of worship."