The Gaudete Trust

Logo of the Gaudete Trust

Following a three-year collaborative process, the Gaudete Trust for Catholic Religious Order Schools in England and Wales has been established. A Commissioning and Commitment Celebration took place in Birmingham on 11 July 2023.
Submitted by Sr Bríd Liston fcJ, Area Leader of the FCJ Area of Europe

The Gaudete Trust has been established in 2023 by five Religious Orders, following a three-year collaborative venture steered by a working group of the National Association of Religious Orders in Education (ROE). The five Religious Orders in the Gaudete Trust are:

  • Members of the Gaudete TrustThe Christian Brothers
  • De La Mennais Brothers
  • La Sainte Union Sisters
  • The Sisters of Charity of St Paul the Apostle
  • The Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus.

Together, these Religious Orders bring seventeen schools to the Gaudete Trust

The venture was part of ROE’s mission to enable the rich heritage of Religious Orders to continue to enrich Catholic education and flowed from its desire to respond creatively to the needs of its members. The mainspring of the trust is the desire of Religious Orders to continue to put their charisms at the service of the Church. By adopting a collaborative approach to trusteeship, the Gaudete Trust offers those Religious Orders an alternative way of continuing to serve Catholic education.

The Commissioning and Commitment Celebration of The Gaudete Trust took place in St Paul’s School for Girls, Birmingham on 11 July 2023.  After a warm welcome from the Members of the Gaudete Trust and the Head Teacher of St Paul’s School, the invited guests – the Religious Order Members of the Trust, the School Heads and Chair of Governors – all enjoyed lunch. This was followed by a short video showing how the charism of the Religious Orders is reflected in the education offered in the schools who ‘stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.’

Gaudete Trust Commisioning ServiceA Liturgy, celebrating the call to Rejoice in the Lord always, involved each of the Religious Order Members lighting the Gaudete Trust Candle from the candle of their Orders. Following prayer, the invocation of the Holy Spirit, reflection, and blessings, these representatives commissioned the Board of Trustees to carry out the responsibilities of active trusteeship for the schools and to ‘… honour our charism and values and offer an education in harmony with our distinctive spirit.

The Board of Trustees was comissioned to… honour our charism and values and offer an education in harmony with our distinctive spirit.


The Gaudete Board of Trustees then made their commitment to carry out the responsibilities entrusted to them ‘…to honouring the charism and values of the founders of these schools and to offering an education in harmony with their distinctive spirit and the Gaudete Trust Vision of Education.

The School and Governor representatives of each of the schools came forward to make their commitment to the Gaudete Trust Charter ‘…offering an education which honours the charism and values of our founding order and is in harmony with the Gaudete Trust Vision of Education.

These school representatives received a candle and a plaque from the Religious Order members to take back to their schools. The liturgy ended with prayers of intercession and Sing for a Blessing by Miriam Therese Winter.

The day was overwhelmingly positive and inspirational. It mirrored the vision and values of the Trust, giving a sense of unity in diversity and a desire to work together for Catholic education as an option for parents into the future. There was clear evidence of collaboration, accountability and subsidiarity, all values that are being called on by Pope Francis in his call for a Synodal Church. The Schools are already talking about how they could reflect on the Charter with their staff and ensure that it is integral to the life of the school into the future.

The Gaudete Trust will be formally launched on 19 October 2023 in the presence of the Members, the Trustees, and a wider representation from the schools in the Trust.

The Gaudete Trust will be formally launched on 19 October 2023 in the presence of the Members, the Trustees, and a wider representation from the schools in the Trust.


Gaudete Trust – Legal Status

The Gaudete Trust is a legal entity with the authority to take on those legal, financial, and inspirational responsibilities of educational trusteeship that were formerly exercised by individual Religious Orders. It is a Charitable Incorporated Organization (CIO) recognized by the Charities Commission and a Public Juridic Person (PJP) recognized by the Catholic Church.

The Gaudete Charter, the foundation document of the Trust, outlines its Vision, Mission, Aims and Guiding Principles. It also outlines its Philosophy of Education. The Characteristics of the Gaudete Trust’s Education will be to provide a framework for the school and college communities in the 21st Century to contextualise three critical faith and spiritual stories.

  • The enduring story – Jesus, his life and ministry and values of the Gospel.
  • The expressive story – the story and the values expressed in the vision and philosophy of the Gaudete Trust and in the prophetic responses of our founders.
  • The evolving story – the courageous work and the legacies of the founders in an interpretive manner that carries them forward to create a new contemporary expression of the Gaudete Trust spirit. The story evolves as the world and society changes.

In the third section of the Charter, the Religious Orders have set out the charism that they are entrusting to the Gaudete Trust.  Part of the commitment of the Trust is to continually reflect on that gift of the charism of each Order and, in partnership with each Board of Governors, to promote it in the schools.

The Trust’s Vision and Philosophy of Education Statement illustrates the common ground that the Religious Orders share in their understanding of the Gospel values that translate into the church’s mission in education.

FCJ Charism

The FCJ charism page affirms that the Society, through education, in responding to the ‘I thirst’ of Jesus, seeks to make known and loved the name of Jesus, his Spirit, his Heart and his Mother. Each FCJ School aims to be faithful to the Gospel values of Companionship, Gentleness, Hope, Justice, Dignity and Excellence.

A Word of Thanks to Sr Brenda Wallace fcJ

Much of the work involved in establishing Religious Orders in Education (ROE) and the Gaudete Trust has been led by Sr Brenda Wallace fcJ. Brenda’s commitment to education goes back over her whole religious life and before it, so the establishment of the Gaudete Trust is one part of the evolution of education in her life. This latest venture is but one example of her desire to ensure that education for young people is central to the life of the Church and the FCJ Society. Brenda, thank you for your untiring commitment to education, to collaborative ministry and to leadership among your colleagues in education.

‘May the clear light of the Spirit’s guidance be a source of effective discernment and decision-making for you. May you be mindful of the Eternal Flame with in you and may you rely on this Source of Love to be your constant and steady guide.’


Image credits: ROE website