But the dominant culture had no collective sense of right and wrong. "Our young people are smarter and big-time can see through that but it leaves them with a massive emptiness," she said.
It was the vocation of Catholic teachers and the Catholic community to tell their own story. "Our vocation is to challenge, change and transform. That's what we are educating our children for," she said.
But the Church had lost the ability in the latter part of the 20th century, and certainly in the 21st, to tell its tale convincingly.
"We have certainly lost the ability to communicate the gospel. What language to use, what images, what rituals. It's a massive challenge," Sister Judith told the headteachers.
In such an unfavourable culture, Catholic schools had to be absolutely certain of their mission, which was far wider than a focus on attainment and standards. They had to explain what ethos meant.
"Teachers sometimes say it's the atmosphere, relationships, loving, caring and sharing. If you cannot put it into words and proselytise it, believe me, it isn't there," she continued.