Throughout history, the education of Catholics has been largely entrusted to religious. This has been the case since schools arose around monasteries, and then universities were established. Numerous religious congregations, devoted to education, appeared, especially during the 19th century. Many saints have dedicated themselves to educating young people, such as Saint Marcellin Champagnat, Saint Joseph Calasanz and Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac. Thousands of religious and lay people have spent their lives offering a good education and in this way expanding the Kingdom of God. Their schools have formed, year after year, students capable of living according to the various charisms of the founders and of transmitting to others all the good received.
Today the context has changed, and in recent times public and secular education has grown stronger in much of the world. Although there are still spaces that it cannot reach, in most Western societies secular and religious education coexist in a secularized context, where the Christian dimension has progressively lost influence, although this does not necessarily mean that it loses importance. For this reason, in the midst of the 21st century, it becomes increasingly urgent to recall the meaning of religious instruction, that is, the principal motivation which, over so much time, makes most congregations and dioceses, as well as other ecclesial bodies, continue to focus on this instrument of evangelization, not without some difficulty. This explains why there are still schools in neighborhoods where very few people profess to be believers, in educational centers where there are no longer any religious, or in countries where the faith arouses mistrust.
We must remember that the worst betrayal that can be inflicted on tradition is that of repeating the traditions, but forgetting their essence: in this way they end up turning into empty gestures, or into a strange nostalgia for a past that is always considered better than the present. In order to renew itself in every moment and place of history, tradition needs to find its deep meaning.