During a time of disillusionment and anxiety for the churches, teachers and catechists are often left to fend and forage for themselves. They need nourishing and inspiring. This book provides significant help in personal, professional and theological formation. In opening up new horizons for them, it loses nothing of the holy heritage of our faith. None of the treasures of our tradition is lost; they are presented against a renewed horizon.There is a time to dream, a time to imagine. Begin with the Heart introduces a radical dimension to the work of catechesis and religious education. It calls for a dynamism and a vitality that can only be engendered in the human heart of both teacher and student. It focuses on an exciting theology of creation and explores the implications of its insights for schools, parishes and colleges of further education. It is another small but vital step towards a long overdue review and renewal in the world of religious education and catechetics. This project of renewal was given its inspiration and a profound impetus by the Study On the Way to Life (2005) of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.The recovery of the notion of the ‘sacramental vision’ is a deeply satisfying and enriching one. Its inspiration cannot fail to touch the creative imagination and the human spirit of students and teachers, young and old, in a beleaguered Christian society today. It will also ensure that the Catholic tradition of education will boldly assert its ability to offer a positive contribution to the common good, in a whole variety of ways, in our profoundly pluralist and swiftly changing society. What is hoped for here is a rekindling of the teachers’ and catechists’ idealistic fire and passion. It is only from their own inner conviction about the infinite worth of their vocation that the hearts of others will catch the vitality of the Holy Spirit and be transformed in their faith-filled lives. It is time now to realise the dream, to work the vision.
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Daniel O’Leary is a priest, author and teacher in the Diocese of Leeds. He taught theology and religious education in St Mary’s University College in London and became Chair of its Religious Studies Department before being appointed Episcopal Vicar for Christian Formation in Leeds. Visit the author’s website.