“Walking Forward Together” may have been the theme of this week’s province-wide Catholic Education Week celebrations, but in Hamilton-Wentworth it is what has been happening for over 160 years, said Chairperson Patrick Daly at an opening mass at Cathedral High School on Monday, May 1st to kick off Catholic Education Week.
“We have a system second to none in the province,” said Daly, acknowledging the vision of the bishops, the sacrifice of clergy and religious sisters, and the commitment and tireless service of teachers and staff at every level in the board's success.
“It’s because of all of you, the students, that we do this.”
Thanking the students for their daily demonstrations of excellence – in academics, co-curricular activities, and most especially in Christian service and prayer, he added that more than a source of pride, they were cause for great hope.
Reflecting on the final sub-theme of the week, “Walking Forward Together with Hope,” Daly said he was filled with hope “knowing that you, our students, will ensure that 100 years from now, the gift of publicly funded Catholic education will be upheld.”
Indicating that this year’s Catholic Education Week theme was inspired by the prophet Micah, who wrote “Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God,” Catholic Education Week Committee Co-chair Michael Lawlor suggested the words were a call to action for those steeped in the traditions of Catholic Education.
“We recognize that our schools are unique places of instruction where we not only become effective communicators, collaborative contributors, and creative thinkers, but also places where we become responsible citizens who are discerning believers formed in our faith community.”
He added that it is the “Catholic” part of our education that forms the people that we have and will become.
“This is what sets us apart from other students and graduates in our province,” said Lawlor.
Sharing a story about a TED conference in Vancouver last week on the theme “The Future You,” presiding celebrant the Very Rev. Father Con O’Mahony suggested that the difference lies in our concern for the needs of others.
“At the same time we are discovering ourselves, we must also spend time discovering what are the needs of our brothers and sisters.”
He added that the future is one that includes everyone, and “it is achievable if we all stick together and pull for each other.”
Director of Education David Hansen, in closing comments, said it is a view that is often at odds with today’s focus on self.
“But it’s not a true picture of the world.”
He said while “you go to school to transform yourself, you go to a Catholic school to learn to transform the world.”
That lesson has already been learned in this gym, said Hansen.
“In this gym, we have individuals who are already transforming our world.”
Citing the D.R.E.A.M.S. students who have come to the aid of people in the developing south, the Best Buddies and PAHL teams who come together in a spirit of friendship, the robotics students who compete in a spirit of gracious professionalism, the Director’s Award recipients who are leaders at their schools, and the staff who freely give of themselves and their time, Hansen indicated that “the school system is filled with people who embrace the message of salvation.”
Extending his best wishes for a happy Catholic Education Week, he added, “As we continue to ‘Walk Forward Together,’ we will transform our schools, our city and for sure, our world.”
Catholic Education Week is an annual event coordinated by the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA) to raise awareness about the unique dimension of Catholic education in Ontario.
In Hamilton-Wentworth, the week begins with a board-wide mass, followed by numerous events at both the system and school level.
“Today’s Mass is certainly the highpoint of Catholic Education Week,” said Catholic Education Week Committee Co-chair Adrian De Tullio, “but it also serves as the springboard that will inspire us to walk forward together during the remainder of the week and beyond.”
System activities to mark Catholic Education Week include a food drive for local food banks and agencies, an Intermediate Scripture Reading Event, and the annual presentation of Director’s Awards for elementary students.