by Cristina Odone IN AN unusual ecumenical gesture, Anglican parents are being encouraged by the Ely Diocese to send their children to a Catholic secondary school.
St Bede's Catholic Secondary is the only Church secondary school in Cambridgeshire, but declining rolls threatened it with closure. One suggestion for St Bede's future is to transform the Catholic comprehensive into an ecumenical community college. There are the other ecumenical schools in the country.
Mgr Paul Hypher of -EaSt Anglia's Diocesan Commission for Religious Education, told the Catholic Herald that the proposal has been welcomed by the diocese on two counts: "as a rescue operation for St Bede's, and as a response to the clear demand from Christians in the Cambridgeshire area for a legal interchurch school."
So far the Cambridgeshire education authorities, which are to reach a decision about St Bede's fate within the next the or six weeks, have requested that "discussions between the Church of England and the Catholic Church about the future of the school be encouraged".
'or the past six months, according to Mgr Hp her, parents of St Bede's 300 students have been discussing a variety of plans to save the school, and although "occasionally there would be a comment of 'if it's not Catholic, 1 won't send my child there', on the whole there has been a great deal of support for the idea of an ecumenical school".
Mgr Hypher said that the "philosophy of the school will be to reinforce the religious and spiritual identity of the students in their own denomination, but also at the same time to open their minds to other denominations."
St Bede's headmistress, Sr Dolores, told the Catholic Herald that she finds the proposed change "an excellent idea. It is tremendous today to find the Churches co-operating in this was, because we do have a lot in common."
lf, by the end of next month, the school will have succeeded in reaching its target of enrolment (the local education authorities have requested 90 new students to enroll in St Bede's, if the school is to be maintained), Sr Dolores said that the school will develop a new ecumenical prospectus.