“I have come that they might have life and have it to the full”
Over 200 years ago, the Religious of Christian Eduction (RCE) was founded by Abbe Louis Lafosse in Echauffeur in France. The sisters of the order took John 10v10 as a key verse in the vision and mission of the RCE – to serve the Lord joyfully and wholeheartedly – and that spirit brought our own four founding sisters to Farnborough in 1889. These amazing women of God followed His call to set up the school community that became Farnborough Hill.
The staff were reminded of the significance of this in an INSET session with Catholic theologian, David Wells, this week and it was striking to see the enduring importance of being whole-hearted in all that we do; our mission even in 2023 is identical to that of our founding sisters so long ago. As the staff of Farnborough Hill, we do not carry a new mission; it is simply our job to steward it at this time and for the cohorts of girls who pass through our doors.
The idea of being a steward of such a precious and significant thing is humbling as an educator – we know, of course, that our role in imparting knowledge and developing understanding is important in the development of our young people, but the idea that we also carry a responsibility for their spiritual and moral formation is the privilege of our position as educators in a Catholic school, and it is not one that we carry lightly.
The belief that every pupil comes to us loved and valued before they have set foot in the building underpins all that we do, for as Pope Benedict XVI put it, “each of us is willed; each of us is loved; each of us is necessary.” We do not put God into people but we draw out what is already there – their gifts and their talents, and their unique role in our community. Our vision – the heart of what we do as a school – is to accompany young women on their journey to help them reach their full potential: to leave us for their next adventure fully alive and thriving in who and what they were made to be.
The reminder that “education is not and must never be considered as purely utilitarian” (Pope Benedict XVI) really frames the original charism of the RCE – John 10v10 in its entirety says that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life and have it to the full” and it is that thief that we must guard against in order to protect the strength and impact of the mission we carry – the utilitarianism of exam specifications and lesson plans and the never-ending to-do lists runs the risk of robbing us of our joy in what we do, in ensuring that the young people we accompany are living their life to the full, we find our own joy.
“education is not a profession but an attitude and way of being; in order to educate it is necessary to step out of ourselves and be among young people, to accompany them in the stages of their growth and to set ourselves behind them. Give them hope and optimism for their journey in the world. Teach them to see the beauty and goodness of creation and of the human person”
Mrs Laura Evans-Jones