One of the sad realities in the schools in Kenya, especially high schools, in the recent past, has been cases of indiscipline leading to the destruction of property and even lives. This has not only been witnessed in public schools but even in Catholic (private) schools. With run-away indiscipline leading to the destruction of property and lives, the government has done a soul searching and concluded that it is the lack of discipline, which is caused by lack of good religious formation in values in the young people that is the cause of the problems. It is for this reason that the government has requested that the Churches provide chaplains for schools to teach values and virtues in the young people in order to instil discipline in them.
In Catholic schools, it is not only discipline but also the whole notion of evangelization for the salvation of souls.
Catholic schools are an essential work of the Church’s Teaching Office, and all teachers in Catholic schools, therefore, participate in this Office, in collaboration with the Bishop. Catholic schools participate in the Church’s evangelizing mission, of bringing the Gospel to the ends of the earth. More particularly, they are places of evangelization for young people. As truly ecclesial institutions, they are “the privileged environment in which Christian education is carried out.” Catholic schools also have a missionary thrust, by means of which they make a significant contribution “to the evangelizing mission of the Church throughout the world, including areas in which other forms of pastoral work are possible. “The role of the Chaplain is to help each member of the school or college community to become more aware of God’s presence and to empower them to celebrate that presence and live out their response to that experience of God. School Chaplains are called to be witnesses of the love and care of God and his Church for the school community. Our Catholic schools are a fundamental part of the mission of the Church and the vision of chaplaincy held by the school must be rooted in Gospel values.
The ministry of the Chaplain demands that he or she is a catalyst for action and reflection and will both enthuse and challenge the whole community to respond to God’s call to discipleship in a Catholic context. This is primarily achieved by the witness of the Chaplain’s own life and also by his or her involvement in the spiritual, liturgical and pastoral life of the school and is available to all members of the school community.
A good chaplain is one who is formed and informed in his/role. This demands good preparation for this ministry. Our programme is geared towards preparing the Chaplain for both the public schools and the Catholic schools. Thus, our programme aims at training the Chaplain into being a good ambassador of the Church for the evangelization of the Gospel to students and staff.
The components of the programme include:
• The nature and purpose of Catholic education
• The nature and purpose of chaplaincy
• The role of chaplaincy in the light of theology, scripture and canon law
• The pastoral reality and context for chaplaincy in education
• The role of the diocesan coordinator for school and college chaplaincy
• Safeguarding and protecting the vulnerable
The programme is conducted at MICOF, DePaul Centre, Nairobi. It is a four-weekends programme, totalling 40 hours.