Another experience of the holy: fostering dialogue about religion and God in Catholic schools with multifaith student populations
Burwell, Jeffrey Scott
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This study seeks to articulate how and to what extent the religious-education programs, faith formation, and spiritual ethos in Catholic schools can cultivate dialogue about and foster experiences of religion and God in light of the diversity of faith traditions present in the student population. The methodology involves demographic and document inquiry, participant observation, and individual, semistructured interviews using an analytical framework inspired by Thomas Groome’s seminal work on a shared Christian praxis. Research was conducted between November 2004 and March 2005. One school in Canada, one school in the United States, and two schools in India were observed, and 15 interviews were completed. What was demonstrated most clearly is that specific dialogue about religion and God is not a primary focus in any of the schools. Rather, their approaches seek to foster character development and religious tolerance based on the principles of moral and values education that are rooted in the experiences of the students. This study is useful for schools that desire to stimulate religious expression and dialogue that are rooted in, but not limited to, the narrow language of a single faith tradition.