Hundreds of school pupils from across the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh gathered at St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Edinburgh, Wednesday 21 November, to welcome the icon of Jesus the Teacher into the diocese, thus beginning of a month of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the Scotland’s Catholic schools being transferred into the state sector.

“What a happy and holy occasion today was,” said the Archdiocesan Religious Education Advisor, Eileen Rafferty, “I hope and pray that the following weeks will see our pupils, parents and teachers become more aware of the treasure that is Catholic education, leading to a greater appreciation of the great good our schools bring to families, parishes and communities – Catholic schools are good for Scotland.”

The icon of Jesus the Teacher, created by Coatbridge-based artist Bernadette Reilly, was commissioned by the Scottish Catholic Education Service to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Education Act which saw 224 Catholic schools, serving 94,000 pupils, transferred into the state sector.

Over the course of this centenary year, the icon has been touring the eight dioceses of Scotland with St Andrews & Edinburgh being its final destination. Today’s Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh saw the sacred artwork handed over by Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell to Archbishop Leo Cushley. Bishop Toal was also the main celebrant of the Mass.

“Education is not just about information, it’s about helping you to know and love and serve Almighty God,” said Archbishop Cushley to the assembled schoolchildren during his homily.

“What we hope to give you, on top of information and skills for the future, is a holy life, a way of being closer to Our Lord, a way of being a person who is on their way to being holy.”

The Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh contains 10 Catholic high schools and 69 Catholic primary schools. These are operated in partnership with families and local government.