I moved to Edson in the summer of 1997, only days after my wedding, to join the Living Waters Family. I have been a proud member of this family ever since, working at both Vanier and Holy Redeemer. As an educator, I have never known working outside of a Catholic, faith-filled, school environment. Information on working in a non-Catholic school has only come to me from conversations with other teachers, parents, students and my own personal observations. All I can say for certain is that the “feeling” when entering a Catholic School is unique from entering any other school. No matter where the school is, that feeling is unmistakable.
On September 25th, 2014 I experienced one of the darkest days of my life. A close friend, who was also a former staff member and wife to a current staff member, passed away suddenly. I wish I was a gifted enough writer to properly convey the loss that I felt that day for our school community, my family and friends, myself and her husband. I was devastated. When I arrived at work shortly after 8 am that morning I was immediately met by weeping students and staff members. Never before had I felt such sadness and loss.
As I made my way through the foyer, I saw something I will never forget and to this day brings a smile to my face. Our Superintendent and her Deputy Superintendent were there offering condolences to staff and students. They probably didn’t hear the news until 6 am that morning and drove to Edson (an hour drive) before I was even able to make it to the school, to be with us in our time of grief. I honestly can’t remember what they said to me that day but I clearly remember the feeling; the feeling that God is with us and that, eventually, we’d be ok.
We have a chapel in our Catholic school, which was a great source of comfort for me. Over the next days and weeks, I would spend a few minutes at the beginning and end of the day sitting in quiet, sobbing, reflection. As I sat there suffering, Jesus was there too suffering on the cross with me and for a few moments each day, I didn’t feel alone.
Our Principal, who is a deeply religious man, was also a great source of comfort to me. He and I engaged in many conversations about life and death throughout that school year. Listening to him talk about his faith helped me to heal from this great loss. I can really never thank him enough for that time, and since he retired, I miss our theological talks.
Would any of this be possible in a non-Catholic school? Of course. Catholics are not the sole custodians of empathy and compassion. However, the fact that we can bring faith into our grieving process for our staff and students cannot be overstated. It helped me immensely and I cannot imagine what that time would have been like for me without my Living Waters Family.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers