A Brampton’s family’s recent lawsuit seeking to remove their son from religion classes at his Catholic school has been making headlines.
The issue has some people and parents wondering why non-Catholics even want to send their children to a Catholic school if they are going to opt out of religion classes.
For one Etobicoke family, whose children go to Catholic school, the answer is easy.
Mary Rebello is a mother of three daughters. Two currently attend Catholic elementary school in their neighborhood. Rebello says Catholicism influences how her children are taught, but also how they learn to live.
“I think the way of Catholicism is that it looks at every person has a value and there’s certain things which are tied to the religion. It is a way of looking at the world that it changes the way they learn and everything, it is not only in religion class that they are learning this way of looking at people and treating people, it goes through all of their subjects,” Rebello said.
While growing up, Rebello also attended Catholic school herself so she knows personally how Catholic schools teach and work.
When asked about her thoughts on the current lawsuit making headlines she responded, “I was following it on the news and I don’t really understand how if a Catholic school is really Catholic, even if you end up opting out of religion class you can’t opt out of the Catholicity of the school because it’s there.
“From my experience having attended Catholic school, it’s in everything, it’s not something that ends when you go into the door of math class…it’s a way of living and looking at life”
Patrick Keyes who is responsible for Student Success and Equity and Inclusive Education at the Toronto Catholic District School Board says all religions are welcome at Catholic schools.
During high school, it is written in the school conduct that students do have the right to opt out of or drop religion classes/activities.
Keyes is not aware of any recent or serious cases where families and students opt out of religion classes except for the current lawsuit going on. But Keyes says there is a good reason why 92,034 students attend the Catholic school system.
“I think the way it impacts is it creates a moral imperative for you. To go out there and do acts of compassion to do acts of goodness…to always listen to others, so that’s our motivation. Whether you are studying chemistry or French or religion for that matter…that permeates in what you do,” Keyes said.
Annie Kidder is the Executive Director of People for Education and a nationally-known educational innovator. She believes parents who are of non-Catholic background, but still send their children to Catholic schools, are seeking common traditional values.
“I think that there maybe is a perception among some parents that Catholic schools are more traditional, perhaps even more…
“There’s a level of comfort then that parents may think that that might fit with their values or their idea of what education should be like, that’s why they would send their children to Catholic school,” Kidder said.
“…The idea of school is not just about you go and get a 100, but you really learn, so I think the idea of Catholic school and the religion teaches you how to look at life and how to relate to people more than anything else,” Rebello said.