Many Catholic children in Ireland appear in church for First Holy Communion, are seen again for Confirmation, after which they only return for special occasions. Concerned parents and others are bewildered, asking why haven’t children learned from eight years of Catholic primary schooling to love their Faith and Church, not to leave? And why, after a further six years of Catholic secondary schooling, did these young people vote overwhelmingly for abortion in the 2018 Referendum?
Seeking answers, Éanna Johnson researched in-depth the Alive-O Religion Programme in Ireland’s Catholic primary schools, (for which he was awarded a PhD in Theology by the Pontifical University, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland), and followed up with a nationwide Learning Assessment Survey of the Religious Knowledge of pupils after they had completed the Alive-O Programme.
The Alive-O Programme was introduced into Ireland’s Catholic primary schools in 1996, and will be fully phased out at the end of the 2019/20 school year. In this Report Dr Johnson reflects on the legacy of Alive-O, especially its effect on the approximately 850,000 pupils that will have completed the Programme.