When the Convent of Poor Clares* in Woodchester, Gloucestershire, was due to close in May 2011, parishioners and friends of the nuns were invited to take books and religious artefacts to save them from being destroyed. Amongst the many old books I acquired, I found a small homemade book by a nun called Sister Francis Agnes. Within the book, I discovered a rare copy of an old, 12-page Syllabus of Religious Instruction in the Schools of The Diocese of Clifton which piqued my interest: I was fascinated to find out what I could have learnt about my faith had I been born two or three generations earlier. It is not a catechism but a scheme of work.
Many Catholics I know have the desire to preserve the treasures of their Catholic heritage that have been brushed under the carpet during the last 50 years by those wanting an ‘easier’ life, suppressing the more ‘difficult’ truths of the Faith. Reading through the syllabus, I immediately realised that my knowledge of the Faith was sadly less than that of a 13 year old of the 1930s/1940s, which is when the syllabus was published under Bishop William Lee. It uses the Catechism Of Christian Doctrine For Infants And Standard I, followed by The Explanatory Catechism Of Christian Doctrine.
And so, before information such as this might be lost, it would be a good thing to promote it far and wide. Please pass it on to whomever you think might be interested so that standards of Catholic education might be helped to be raised, and the knowledge passed on to future generations.
[*pre-1970s it was known as the Franciscan Convent, Woodchester]