Catholic Education: Vision of Hope for the Caribbean.”


Report on CARIBBEAN ASSOCIATION OF CATHOLIC TEACHERS (CACT) Biennial Conference by Bishop Gabriel Malzaire – Bishop of Roseau, Dominica


The 22nd Biennial Conference of the Caribbean Association of Catholic Teachers (CACT) was held this year at the Mount Calvary Retreat House in Mandeville, Jamaica, from Saturday July 28 to Sunday, August 5, 2012, under the theme: “Catholic Education: Vision of Hope for the Caribbean.”


In attendance were representatives from the various territories of the Antilles region, namely: Guyana with 7 participants, Trinidad & Tobago 12, Grenada 1, Dominica 1, Antigua & Barbuda 5,
Bahamas 2 and Jamaica 27. Present also were, Bishop Neil Tiedemann, the Ordinary of the host Diocese, Mandeville, Archbishops Donald Reece (Emeritus) and Charles Dufour who both attended the opening ceremony held at the Gulf View Hotel in Mandeville and Bishop Gabriel Malzaire, the AEC liaison person to CACT.

The conference consisted of a wholesome combination of activities and events that were spiritual, educational, and social (cultural). The spiritual dimension comprised Holy Mass and evening devotions on a daily basis.  What would be classed in this report as the educational dimension took the form of reports from the various Diocesan Association of Teachers and workshops which elaborated the Conference theme. These workshops focused on the following topics: span>

1.    What makes a Catholic School Catholic? by Dr. Sandra Hamilton.

2.    The Teaching of Mathematics by Mr.
Alexander Bourne.

3.    Character Counts- with elements of conflict resolution by Ms. Margaret Bolt.

4.    >Money Management by Mrs. Karlene Kelly Reid

5.    Pastoral Letter on Education  by Bishop Gabriel Malzaire

6.    Preparing for the year of Faith by Mr. Noel Wilkins


As regards topics 1, 3, 5 and 6 above, some points of discussion at the Conference included:

·         The recognition that Catholic Education as a gift to the region and the world.

·         The role of the Catholic Teacher in the mission of the Church.

·         span>The need to create greater possibilities for sharing programmes among the Catechists and Teachers throughout the Caribbean Region

·         The Catholic School as being not merely centers of excellence but also centers of questioning.

·         The Catholic identity embracing sacraments and sacramentals, social justice, respect for life, virtue of peace, history and tradition, the common good of man, the statues, the communion of saints, purgatory, personal voluntary service, etc.

·         The need for a strategic vision for 2020 for Catholic Schools in the Caribbean.


·         The need to see that Catholic identity must be seen as inextricably linked to our Catholic Culture.

·         The need for our policies to reflect what we believe as Catholics and to guide our behaviour in

·         The need for Catholic Educators to bring into the classroom who and what they are as Catholic.

·         In light of the
difficulty experienced in understanding the Catholic faith, the need for the Catholic educator to explain the faith by word and action.

·         In recognition of the fact that a great number of Catholic teachers do not know their Faith and are therefore easily misled by others, the need for a strategic plan for the ongoing formation of teachers and students in Catholic Schools.

>·         The need for all Catholic Schools in the region to celebrate annually the feast of the patron saint of teachers – St. John Baptist de La Salle. (It was decided that the patronal feast should be celebrated as much as possible on May 15. However, as it is usually the period of examination in the region, Catholic Schools in the various territories may opt for one of the other dates associated with the saint; for example, April 7, the date of his entry into eternity (sometimes falls during the Easter break), February 19, date of his beatification, April 9, date of ordination to the Priesthood, April 30, date of birth, or May 24, the date of his canonization).



Some challenges experienced in Catholic Schools throughout the Antilles region were also discussed. They are as follows:

Non-Catholics as Principals in Catholic Schools.

2.    Students of other denominations given preference over Catholic students.

3.    Financial challenges - In some territories the Church is responsible for salaries.

4.    Technical and vocational skills in Catholic Schools are lacking.

>5.    The role played by Governments in relation to the Catholic Church.

6.    Catholic teachers understanding their roles in the relation to other denominations attending our Catholic Schools as regards rules, policies and curriculum.

7.    The “crisis of values” in Catholic Schools.

8.    The need for authentic models from teachers by students.

9.    The need for Evangelization of both teachers and students.


The Pastoral Letter of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) span>


·         It was agreed that the Pastoral Letter on Catholic Education issued by the Antilles Bishops, should serve as a handbook for Catholic Schools as it provides a good understanding of Catholic Education. In that regard the following resolutions was made:

-          Be it resolved that the Pastoral Letter on Catholic Education in the Territories of the AEC become part of the Pastoral Planning for Catholic Educational Institutions in the AEC Territories.

-          Be it further resolved that various Local Associations of Catholic Teachers complete the implementation by 2014.


>Social (cultural)


On some evenings during the conference participants from the various territories entertained the participants with cultural performances. In addition, the students from the Catholic College of Mandevill entertained the group with a concert on the final evening.


Tours were organized to some of the social and educational institutions in operation in the Diocese of Mandeville. They include: The John Bosco Children’s Home, Holy Spirit Complex (Church, Clinic, Sausage factory, farm and school), Mary Help of Christians Home and the Catholic College of Mandeville. 


Some suggestions for the way forward:


·         Highlight the concerns re Catholic Education put forward at the conference to the AEC through Bishop Malzaire.

·         Note the challenges of this Conference in order to amend them at the next Conference to be held in Guyana in 2014.

>·         Engage younger members in CACT.

·         Proposal to increase the subscription for CACT (US$150 per year)

·         Detailed planning for the Executive meeting in Guyana, (November, 2012)

·         >Contact other territories of the Caribbean to be involved in CACT.

·         Develop a common handbook for all Catholic Schools in the Caribbean through AEC.

· style="font: 7pt/normal 'Times New Roman'; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal">         Given the financial challenge experienced by CACT a budget should be prepared for the AEC by January 2013 for possible solicitation of funds on behalf of CACT.


Closing Ceremony and New Executive



The closing ceremony of CACT 2012 was held at St. Paul of the Cross Cathedral, Mandeville. At that ceremony a new Executive was commissioned. It will serve for the two year period 2012-2014. The members are as follows:

·         Ms. Joan Walker  - President (Trinidad and Tobago)

·         Ms. Doreen Brown – Vice President (Jamaica)

color="#000000">·         Ms. Karen Collins – Secretary ( Guyana )

·         Ms. Millicent Gray – Assistant Secretary (Jamaica)

·         Ms. Denise Bascombe – Treasurer (Antigua and Barbuda)