Catholic Education Sunday is a time that allows us to remember how fortunate we are in this province to be able to offer publicly funded Catholic education. Our schools provide our children with an environment where they can learn to be witnesses to the love of Christ, and to keep their eyes ever on Jesus. Since our Faith and our living cannot be separated, our Catholic Faith permeates everything we do as educators.
This year, Holy Spirit Catholic Schools will remain focused on our Faith Plan, Growing in Faith Together (GIFT). Our guiding image for this plan is a beautiful tree that will be revealed over three years. The aim of the plan’s first year was to be “Rooted in Christ,” developing a greater understanding of the foundations of our Faith. This encouraged purposeful study of the Gospels and an appreciation for Christ’s enduring love through the Eucharist. Our second year inspires us to “Grow in Spirit” together. Expanding on our knowledge of Jesus through Scripture, we hope to know Him more deeply in our hearts by nurturing this relationship through prayer.
In celebrating the gift of Catholic Education in Alberta, we are grateful to both God and our provincial parish family that loves us, supports us, and stands up for us. Please continue to pray with us and for us. Along with our students, our families, our staff, and our parishes, we look forward to a beautiful year of Growing in Spirit together!
On September 23, we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Canadian Martyrs Parish. It was a joyous event capping off a year of special events and planning. The choir, under the direction of Andreas and Kathryn Berko, was jubilant in song. Kathryn composed The Mass of the Canadian Martyrs, while Caroline Panlilio composed the Responsorial Psalm.
Bishop McGrattan spoke eloquently about a church building and its relationship to the community over 50 years. He reiterated the Gospel message: “…the first will be last and the last shall be first” [Matthew 20: 1 - 16] At the beginning of the 50 years, the parishioners built up the parish memories with many sacraments performed; and now the newest parishioners continue on!
Following the Mass, parishioners and guests attended a dinner and gathering at Varsity Community Hall where we enjoyed speeches and parish entertainment along with the St. Francis School Jazz Ensemble. With 250 people present, the mood was celebratory and included much visiting among parishioners, past and present, including pastors. Fr. Vincent’s address traced the pioneer spirit of the Canadian Martyrs to the parish’s first priest Msgr. Joseph Le Forte and other founding parishioners, some of whom were present. Quoting Msgr. Le Forte from the 10th Anniversary, “…through it all the families of Canadian Martyrs formed a strong community of faithful and loyal people that work together in a most remarkable manner…” In a toast to the priests who had served, and continue to serve as the parish’s pastors, being men who had brought life to the inanimate building – no matter how beautiful – and the visible results of 50 years of their dedicated, visionary hard work, all rose in their honour and in thanks to those pastors absent or whom have gone before us.
The Closing Hymn at the Mass echoed the 50th Anniversary theme: “We are a pilgrim people, we are the Church of God. A family of believers, disciples of the Lord. United in one spirit, ignited by the fire. Still burning through the ages, still present in our lives.”
In the hilarious television program Mr. D., the titular character expounds a basic philosophy about teaching. “Mark the smart kid’s exam first and use it as an answer key.” He explains in another episode about the mentoring of practicum students – basically, throw them into the deep end and take a day off. In his standup routine he once told a group of teachers, “I saw a seminar recently, Engaging Students in the 21st Century. It was cancelled. You can’t engage them anymore! Teachers saying, ‘I’m not going to that! That’s impossible.’”
Needless to say, Mr. D. is not actually a role model for us as teachers, though in the way of great parody, he often builds on real situations to make his humour more identifiable. While all of us no doubt prepare diligently for each class, it’s true to say that the workload for teachers is at times overwhelming. And teaching isn’t just about the material anyway. As teachers everywhere understand – it’s how you present information, and how you connect to your students, that can be the difference between failure and success. All this is compounded by the different learning needs and styles of the students themselves. Clarity for one individual can be gobbledygook to another.
For all of these reasons, I think that teaching is one of the toughest gigs on the planet. And yet the world over, masochists keep presenting themselves to take on this challenge. Why? I truly believe that most individuals turn to this remarkable profession because they want to make a difference in the lives of others. Teaching, in the context of a faith tradition, can be even harder. We live in a secular society, and the dynamic messaging of today’s technology, and the contradictory information that flows to our children, is overwhelming.
The Calgary Catholic Education Foundation (CCEF) is one organization that understands the challenge for both teachers and students. Founded in 2008, CCEF is a charitable organization that raises funds for schools in need – innovative educational experiences, technology, literacy projects, and educational environments – to ensure that no child is left behind. And once a year, on Catholic Education Sunday, the organization rallies to raise funds through parishes and the community to help support educational opportunities and initiatives that are otherwise not funded. I’m proud to say that this year our Bachelor of Education students will be playing an active role in helping to promote the Foundation’s objectives, and indeed that one of our Education students, Vanessa Bitoni, is on CCEF’s Board of Directors. Together I am sure that we will work together to ensure that this is one of the most successful years to date for CCEF.
Our job is not just to educate, but also to do this with passion, so that we can help students find theirs. Aristotle once said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” To which I think we can all say: Amen!
In 1992, St. John Paul founded the World Meeting of Families (WMF) that takes place every three years in a different country. Pope Francis has chosen Dublin, Ireland, for the 2018, World Meeting of Families, a festival of witness to the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ Under the motto “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”.
Families and individuals will come from all over the world to gather in Dublin from August 21 – 26 to share their experiences and create new ones. You are invited to join them. For more information go to http://wmof2018dublin.com/
This initiative consists of all parishes in the diocese offering the sacrament of Reconciliation on all the Wednesdays of Advent and Lent from 7:30-8:30pm in addition to other scheduled times for Reconciliation at your parish.
Below are bulletin reflections for Rejoice in God’s Mercy, the diocesan renewal of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Please insert these reflections into your parish bulletin each Sunday from Feb 11 to Palm Sunday.
- Note that Some parishes may need to extend the time to accommodate the number of penitents or speak about the initiative in advance to encourage parishioners to take advantage of the earlier dates. Make Reconciliation available at your parish on Wednesdays February 21, 28; March 7, 14, 21 & 28, from 7:30 – 8:30pm.
You might like to use this paragraph to advertise the initiative in your parish bulletin:
The Diocese of Calgary invites you to experience the peace, love, and joy brought by participating in the sacrament of reconciliation. In addition to the regular parish schedule, the sacrament of Reconciliation will be available at parishes throughout the Diocese of Calgary all the Wednesdays of Lent from 7:30 – 8:30pm.
In addition to the regular parish schedule, the sacrament of Reconciliation will be available at parishes throughout the Diocese of Calgary all the Wednesdays of Lent from 7:30-8:30 p.m.
February 11, 6th Sunday of ordinary time
Catholics celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation because we recognise that sometimes we fail to do as we ought and because we believe in God’s mercy and forgiveness. Action: Share your faith in God’s mercy with others and let them know that it is available for them also.
February 18: Lent I
As we begin Lent, the desert is not a place for us to fear, but a place of encountering the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can reveal what binds us, as well as what steals from our freedom to be the person God created us to be. Action: Throughout the forty days of Lent, pray to the Holy Spirit to advocate for you and free you from whatever keeps you from greater intimacy with God.
February 25: Lent II
While Peter tells Jesus “it’s good to be here”, he is also genuinely terrified. The work of a Christian calls for our courage, trust, and faith. The challenges of Christian living bring us out of complacency and into authentic discipleship where we encounter Christ in one another. Action: Go outside of your comfort zone. Ask the Holy Spirit to identify Christ to you in people you may have overlooked.
MARCH 4: LENT III
Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. He quickly responds to the appalling acts taking place in the temple with holy audacity, righteous anger, and consuming zeal. Just as Jesus clears the temple, if we are living temples of the Holy Spirit, we can also ask what abominations are taking place in us. Action: Pray to the Holy Spirit to identify what needs to change in your life. Dare to ask God for help and mercy.
MARCH 11: LENT IV
The image of the crucifix is itself a prayer for many Catholics. We are encouraged to rest our eyes upon the crucifix and see the One, who has created all things. As you ponder the meaning of the Cross, above all consider this: God chose that His only Son suffer upon the Cross that we might be healed. Action: Spend time in quiet in front of a cross or crucifix. Observe how this contemplation affects you.
MARCH 18: LENT V
A seed must die to produce new life. In dying to self we choose to trust and to exercise faith, hope and love. These virtues lead us into intimate contact with God and transform us into new life in the image of Christ. Action: What can you do to die to self during this week of Lent? Which virtues will help you to glorify God in this way?
With Passion Sunday we begin the final week of Lent and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Paschal Triduum. Rejoice in God’s Mercy has aimed to invite you to participate more readily and more easily in the sacrament of Reconciliation. Most parishes have a regularly scheduled time for Reconciliation throughout the year or by appointment. Jesus never said it would be easy to follow him but he also gave us this sacrament to help us own up to our failings, receive his strength, and start anew. Action: Take concrete steps to make the sacrament of Reconciliation an integral part of your life as a disciple of Christ.