WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Education issues hotly debated at forum

Funding in Catholic schools was a hot topic at a pastoral area forum in Hawke’s Bay in August with one speaker saying that there is a total moratorium on new building in Catholic schools but ‘some state schools are benefiting from millions of dollars being spent on extensions and upgrades’.

The principal of St John’s College, Hastings, Neal Swindells, told the gathering of parishioners from throughout Hawke’s Bay that many good things were happening in the schools but the ability to enhance the opportunities was restrained by the shortage of funding. Some bus services to local Catholic schools are also threatened now that the Ministry of Education has withdrawn its funding for the Flaxmere bus, he said.

Mr Swindells also commented that in spite of these difficulties there remains a wonderful spirit within our Catholic schools and students continue to achieve at the highest level.

 Two pastoral area forums are held each year in Hawke’s Bay and this one was on Saturday, August 7, at St Peter Chanel Parish Centre in Hastings.

Discussions are held on the topics parishes put forward as agenda items and recommendations are then made to the Pastoral Area Council for consideration and, where appropriate, action. Parishes also report into the forum on events in the past six months and those projected for the next half year.

After Neal Swindells’ challenging talk, the gathering was firmly of the view that the spirit and values that are so much a part of education in Catholic schools need to be highlighted, particularly by word of mouth from parent to parent. The challenge is there for all to take up because Catholic education is about more than bricks and mortar.

Each forum opens and closes with a time of prayer and then the host parish serves a light luncheon before everyone heads home. With morning tea to start and lunch to finish, the forums take no more than three hours and those gathered enjoy the fellowship and ideas that come from being together.

The Hawke’s Bay Pastoral Area Council feels enlightened and encouraged by the enthusiasm and vibrancy in the parishes and the support for the Pastoral Area Council.