Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In preparation for the upcoming provincial election, the Catholic Bishops of Alberta wish to encourage all members of the Church to engage in the electoral process. By means of this letter, we offer to our Catholic faithful a reminder of important principles and concerns, which stem from the social doctrine of the Church, to guide the discernment of choices that accord with the Gospel’s vision for the right ordering of society.
Please join with us in prayer for those elected to public office. They are assuming a heavy responsibility, often at great personal sacrifice. May they be granted the strength and wisdom to govern in accord with the precept of charity in service of the life and well-being of everyone.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Catholic Bishops of Alberta
Most Reverend Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton
Most Reverend William McGrattan, Bishop of Calgary
Most Reverend Gary Franken, Bishop of St. Paul
Most Reverend Gerard Pettipas CSsR, Archbishop of Grouard-McLennan
Most Reverend David Motiuk, Bishop of the Ukrainian Eparchy of Edmonton
One of the traditional rites of passage in our society is high school graduation. All schools, from small town to big city, take time at the end of the school year to recognize the culmination of the kindergarten to grade 12 educational journey for students, their families, and the wider community. In our Catholic schools, we understand these ceremonies as an opportunity to reflect our Catholic identity and to contribute to a shared spirituality of communion. Our students have experienced the richness of our faith in many ways through their time in our schools, from classroom prayers and liturgies to service projects and retreats. In Holy Spirit Catholic schools, each of our graduating classes also mark this moment with a Mass as they are sent forth on their next steps.
In the past three years, schools across the province have had to shift these ceremonies through many different modes, from online delivery to drive-through graduations, hybrid versions and outdoor events, as they sought to comply with the regulations prevailing at that time. While these celebrations were meaningful, personal and reflected the best efforts of each school staff, one of the blessings of this spring has been the ability to gather together again.
In the third year of our Holy Spirit Catholic Schools three year Faith Plan, Making our Mark, Journey of an Intentional Disciple, our key scripture to focus on has been from Romans 12: “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.”
This has been a most fitting verse for us this spring, as our gatherings in each of our communities have powerfully reaffirmed the deep human need that we have for spiritual connection with one another, and how vital it is for us to be together as we celebrate. While we know that we are one body in Christ whether we are gathered in one place or not, graduations this spring have reinforced the scale and scope of our faith community, and how we belong to one another in that community. Our physical presence with one another shows us that even as we proceed along our educational and faith journeys individually, we are never detached from the one body in Christ.
As I reflect upon this year’s graduation class, I am again reminded of God’s providence for us in all of the experiences of our lives. The three year journey that we in Holy Spirit have experienced in our faith plan, and the three year high school journey that this graduating class has experienced, were marked indelibly by the Covid pandemic. However, as a collective group, we are not marked solely by the pandemic. We might think instead of the wide range of educational experiences that students have had to prepare them to graduate, and the warmth of the interactions between staff and students as they engaged in the learning process. We might think of the ways in which our schools and communities have supported each other, and our shared joy in recognizing our graduates. We might choose to see the recent past as an opportunity to focus on and develop the virtues of fortitude, patience, and constancy. We might remind ourselves that one of the great things about a high school graduation is, that as an end and a beginning, it is a time filled with hope. And, in our Catholic schools, we know that hope is not solely our hopes for something, but a hope in Christ and in God’s promises and plans for us.
As we pray this month for our graduates, let us pray that their hope be abundant and expansive, that they continue to deepen their faith, and that they witness in their words and actions the unity we share in the body of Christ.
After three challenging years, the 2022 graduates gathered last month at Holy Family Parish to celebrate their graduation Mass. These students were in grade 10 when the pandemic hit, having the entirety of their high school education impacted. But they focused on opportunities rather than challenges, and persevered to reach this wonderful milestone.
Our division's theme this year was “Created in the Image of God”. Throughout the year, staff and students focused on the dignity, beauty, and uniqueness of each person. This theme was embedded in the graduation Mass in many facets. On the steps near the altar, each student’s graduation picture was displayed. In the homily, Fr. Rodel Abanto spoke of graduation being a commencement, i.e., a beginning. He reminded the students that they have all been made in the image of God and have been given unique gifts to impact the world in countless ways. At the conclusion of the Mass, Fr. Rodel prayed a special blessing over the cross necklaces, which were given by the Administration for each graduate as a stirring reminder of Jesus’ abounding love for them.
This graduation was a celebration of a community of members with unique backgrounds, experiences, and stories, all coming together in a beautiful tapestry. Many students have been part of Catholic education since kindergarten. Other students joined our Catholic division at various points in their educational journeys. In a recent religion review performed in our division, Dr. Dean Sarnecki asked students who had attended school in both the public and Catholic schools if they found a difference between the school systems. The students could not specifically identify the difference but noted that there was a special feeling in the Catholic system - that it was “just different” and offered “something more.” Hard to put their finger on, perhaps, but that “difference” was pervasive.
Another tremendous aspect of celebrating our graduating class was the 16 international students who graduated alongside their Canadian classmates. These students came from Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Denmark, Columbia, Ukraine, Japan, and Poland. They forged friendships that will last a lifetime and span many miles across the globe. Each one of these students was an important piece of the patchwork, the tapestry, of the Graduating Class of 2022.
We do not know what the future holds for our graduates, but we do know we are sending them out with numerous lessons learned. They have learned to be flexible; they have learned the value of working together; they have learned perseverance pays off; they have learned to be welcoming to others in their midst, and they have learned that they are created in the image and likeness of God. With these experiences woven together, forever a part of the tapestry of the Class of 2022, undoubtedly, they will thrive.
Photos from the Monsignor McCoy High School Graduation for Class 2022
“Those schools in Brooks are sure doing amazing things.” This comment made by my father-in-law started it all. I was four months away from graduating, unsure where I would end up, so I decided to look into ‘those schools’; after all, they were in my hometown.
I remembered the old brick building from my primary school years. Aesthetically, the outside still looked the same, but I would be forever changed by the inside. As I opened the heavy brown metal door, I clearly recall being overcome with an indescribable feeling. My heart fluttered and an overwhelming sense of peace and calm came over me. Even to this day, I cannot explain exactly what I experienced, but I do remember thinking, I need to be here.
The secretary, who is one of the most amazingly kind individuals I have ever met, greeted me at the front office. Her eyes were so welcoming and warm. We exchanged pleasantries and the reason for my visit. I took a seat, and shortly afterwards I was greeted by the principal. She too made an impression on me. Sitting in her office, not knowing her for more than five minutes, I could tell she was a sincere, kind, and compassionate soul, the kind of person anyone would want to work for. I shared my desire to do my teaching practicum at Holy Family Academy. It was a new adventure for the school to take on a practicum student, but she granted me the opportunity. We finalized plans and exchanged information, and that was the beginning of my journey in Catholic Education in Brooks.
Over 20 years later, my journey continues. Throughout the years, I have had the pleasure of teaching at Holy Family Academy and St. Joseph’s Collegiate, and currently I teach at Christ the King Academy. I have taught some of the best students one could ask for in almost every grade and subject. I have also taught the toughest of the tough, the ones others might give up on. Being able to use my faith as a guide, helped me immensely. They were the most challenging group I taught, but they had the biggest impact on me.
I am blessed to see Catholic education come full circle, as I am now teaching the children of some of my past students. The values and morals we instilled in our students then are becoming evident in the parents they are now and are reflected in their children who sit before me in class, an affirmation that we are doing good things here.
I still sense that indescribable feeling every day when I go to work. It fills me with contentment every time I open the doors. I was reignited in my faith and finally felt a sense of purpose, and I will be forever grateful for walking through those doors the first time. Trust me when I say, “Those schools in Brooks are sure doing some amazing things.” You should check them out.
My journey with Catholic education started in St. Catharines, Ontario, at a job fair that was being held by Brock University. Gary Chiste was standing at the Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools’ booth with a pack of Smarties and a contagious smile on his face. “Come for an interview!” he exclaimed. I had never thought about moving to Alberta. My plan in life was to work for the school board I had grown up in. I’d move back to my hometown, teach at my local Catholic high school and likely live with my mom to help around the house. But Christ the Redeemer had Smarties… and I couldn’t resist the Smarties.
I have grown up in Catholic schools all my life because I was blessed with parents who believed in the value of Catholic education. But after spending time with students in the classroom, something was definitely different about the Catholic culture at Christ the King Academy. Each interaction with students was done through a love of Christ and with authenticity. Conversations became more meaningful because of the vulnerability that students and staff experienced. It was evident my colleagues were called to be educators and that they were living out their vocations by having real and genuine interactions that were mastered through the teachings of the Gospel. Even through challenging moments, when students had to be disciplined, they were met with grace and with the understanding that they, too, were a child of God.
What I love most about Catholic education is how we pray before a hard quiz or exam; how we can stop what we are doing to teach a lesson from the Bible, how we discipline with the teachings of Jesus.
What I love most about Catholic education is how we can have prayer services for fish that have died in our classrooms, the love that our students have for one another, despite their differences because they share the same faith.
What I love most about Catholic education is the moments that go unexplained because of the Holy Spirit at work: when a student who is struggling the most “gets it” or when a student who has no connections to friends in the class suddenly gets invited to play at recess.
I am thankful for the many opportunities I have had with students and conversations I have had with staff members. I’m thankful for the moments that have challenged me both personally and professionally. I look forward to what the Holy Spirit has in store for me and my students.
From the perspective of a priest, I, Fr Troy Nguyen, have seen the gift of Catholic education. Beginning with my time as a Deacon, I was able to visit a Catholic school in NW Calgary once a month and dedicate the whole day to speak to different grades in 30 minute intervals. From sharing the mystery of Advent with the little ones to speaking about the rational basis for our faith to the junior high students, it was a great opportunity to share the Gospel.
One of my favourite things to do is to do question period with any grade but particularly the younger kids. They ask a variety of tough questions: who created God? Does the bible talk about dinosaurs? These and many other questions challenge me to translate complicated philosophical and biblical topics into bite size pieces for an 8 year old! Most importantly, it is time just to be with the students in a very human way just like Jesus did. Whether it’s walking through the halls, going to a high school football game or playing sports with the students, it reveals that faith is not contrary to our everyday life.
I had an opportunity during lunch at an elementary school in Christ the Redeemer (CTR) to walk around and was invited to kick the ball for kickball. So I took up the challenge in my priestly attire and smoked that ball into the end of time! The kids were shocked and elated at the same time that a ‘priest’ could play kickball. At a junior high school in CTR during a girls basketball finals game, I was invited to say the opening prayer for the team and give them a blessing to calm their nerves because they were worried about this particular opponent. When they started playing, the girls from CTR played with great freedom, crushed their opponent and won the championship. They were extremely grateful for the spiritual boost and ‘divine intervention.’ To be able to share in the joys of these students with faith is a great gift.
There are many more instances I could describe where Catholic education creates opportunities to encounter our Lord and the Catholic faith. These opportunities to reach out to students are only available to me because the administration and teachers allow me to come to visit the school. It may be much more difficult if not impossible to enter another school not focused on Catholic education.
So, while there is much to be grateful for, there is much to continue to strive for if we want to maintain Catholic education. We need to pray for our teachers and administration and we need to continue to be intentional in forming their faith so that they can evangelize to our children from an authentic heart. We need to remain firm in our Catholic identity so that we can transmit the Catholic faith in its fullness and this is what differentiates us from public education.
Catholic education is a gift, but gifts need to be protected and preserved. So we give thanks to God for the gift of Catholic education, and we ask him to protect and preserve this gift so that all of our children may continue to have the opportunity to know and to love this amazing God.
Even moments of stress can be holy. When complaining about getting the ladder up to put up Christmas lights in the cold, a student re-framed the situation to say at least you have a house and are healthy enough to climb up! By shifting our perspectives slightly, we were able to see ordinary encounters as holy moments.
The impact of teaching and learning through the various waves of the COVID 19 pandemic has impacted everyone and affected us in different ways. We noticed in conversations that at times it was challenging to see the light along the journey. Even as faith-filled educators we had to cope with uncertainty and make sense of God’s intention for us. It is in times like these that our faith can really be our strength, if we look for it.
At our school we started with a reflection on our daily encounters. Rather than simply overlooking a helpful gesture or beautiful sunrise, we wanted to absorb those moments. Those moments can be fleeting, yet so powerful.
To transfer this to students, among several initiatives, we implemented a call to identify holy moments. One of the activities that we had students participate in was a “Holy Moments” chain. Students would add their moments to the chain which was connected and displayed in the hallways.
We found that by intentionally sharing holy moments, perspectives changed. The act of re-framing situations to see the blessings in our midst allowed us to see our call to be joyful people, who act with gratitude. However, joyful participation in the challenges of life isn’t always easy. By identifying holy moments, it has also affirmed the gift that we have in our Catholic school with faith in the Lord at all times. We walk with Jesus every day! It is a blessing to be able to journey through hard times together knowing that God calls us to lift one another up when we are down. When you stop and look for it, even on your hardest day there is a holy moment that will make you smile.
The foundation of our school as a community of faithful has not been more relevant than it is today. We need to know that God is with us. It is up to us to actually pause and notice His presence in our lives. The only question left to ask is, what holy moments have you had today?
Recently East Central Alberta Catholic School Division (ECCS) hosted its annual Mission and Ministry Day. The divisional full day faith event is facilitated to help foster and enrich our spiritual journey in loving and serving God. ECCS has developed a four-year faith plan based on the divisional touchstone which reads, “We teach; we share; we learn; we care. Growing in Christ believing that we can make a difference.”
The focus of our year one faith plan is the beginning of the touchstone, “we teach.” During this year, we focus on answering God’s vocational calling to be authentic Catholic educators. The scriptural foundation for the school year’s faith focus is from Romans 8:28, “we know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” What a relevant scriptural passage this is in kicking off the four-year faith initiative! We extend to Father Moses of Blessed Sacrament Church in Wainwright, as well as Father Christopher at St. Mary’s Church in Provost, a sincere thank you for wonderfully celebrating our opening liturgy.
Educating within a Catholic school is a God given vocation, a calling, and not just a job. God has given each of us unique abilities, talents, and gifts that we are summoned upon to give freely and to teach the Good News as Jesus Christ did. What a beautiful and tremendously magnificent responsibility this is. Every day we receive the greatest gift, that being the children of God, to which we are called upon to educate, love, care for, and to build God’s kingdom.
Often, the best professional development and faith enrichment comes from those that we work with daily. Every person has a story to tell and we wanted to capture the unique and sometimes challenging faith journeys travelled in answering God’s call to be Catholic educators. With this in mind ECCS along with Dr. Annicchiarico as our guest speaker, facilitated a day centered around the power of story telling. The telling of personal faith stories takes courage. Three administrators and two senior administrators shared their personal testimonials of being called by God. Three story telling topics consisting of being “Called,” “Blessed,” and “Entrusted” were delved into by our presenters. Each testimonial was incredibly personal and each resonated in different ways. All the stories touched upon the truths of humanity, being sinners, facing struggles, enduring hardships, and ultimately finding joy and peace in recognizing and responding to God’s call!
After each testimonial staff members were provided with guiding questions that helped to foster further story telling. The stories told were authentic, sometimes emotional, and there seemed to be a general mood of sincere joy and gratitude. Stories have the power to unite us and they bind us together as witnesses of God’s love and mercy. Heartfelt story telling is a remarkable way of passing on the truth and wisdom gained along our life journey. At the end of the day, we realized that we are all wonderfully created and uniquely gathered to vocationally answer the call of God. We are so very blessed to be a part of His plan.
I left the task of dressing Frank in football equipment until 5 minutes before we had to leave for practice and the pressure was on. My anxiety stemmed from my own football days in which being late for practice was punishable by a variety of creative endurance challenges. When we finally made it to the field 10 minutes late, I was half-relieved that the coach did not demand that I run sprints with one of Frank's 8-year-old teammates on my back.
As our bobble-headed children ran drills in the field, I joined other parents on the sideline, where the typical introductory remarks occurred. Learning that I was a local Catholic school principal, two parents recounted their own Catholic education as they were both alumni of Catholic schools in Alberta.
Obviously, most people do not wish to discuss negative experiences with total strangers, however in my experience, without solicitation, many people enthusiastically share the memories of their Catholic education.
Often it is said of Catholic schools in Alberta that "they feel different" from their public counterparts. This feeling is usually attributed to the obvious religiosity of the building or Holy Spirit's activity in our midst. Since moving further south in Alberta, I have decided that Catholic school alumni also "feel different." Though a bit mysterious and difficult to define, based on many spontaneous conversations, I think that Catholic education in Alberta, at its best, gives students the opportunity to witness Christ's Kingdom being built daily...and it sticks with them.
Most people have some sense of the trappings and routines of catholicity in our schools. While the formalized religious and liturgical programming feeds our spirit and identity, there is an equally important "spiritual osmosis" that occurs to students from the teachers, parents, and priests who model how Catholics think and act in daily life.
The products of Kingdom building are seen in the police officer who still attends school masses and remembers the prayers from his years in Catholic school. The parent who arrived in Canada as a refugee from Bosnia and "prays like a Catholic" because of her schooling, despite being Muslim. A community coach who leads pre-game prayer, because "that's what we always did." The volunteer driver with a van full of teenage boys, who crosses herself when driving by a cemetery or church. The innumerable stories of teenage shenanigans met with merciful responses of both Catholic parents and teachers working to restore peace and justice.
These little conversations are a grace to me knowing that educators, parents, and clergy rarely see the fruits of their work. They are indicators of our students meeting Jesus and being a part of his Kingdom while in our schools. It is an education that sticks with them and reveals God's love.
A message from the Alberta Bishops for Catholic Education Sunday - Nov 7, 2021
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The fourth wave of this pandemic continues to challenge us. In the midst of illness, uncertainty and insecurity, these prophetic words of Jeremiah resonate deeply: “I will heal your wounds,” says the Lord. “I will restore you to health.” These words offer comfort and hope to our Catholic school communities here in Alberta as they celebrate Catholic Education Sunday on November 7, 2021. In solidarity with our fellow Ontario Catholic educators, we embrace the theme: Catholic Education: Rebuild, Restore, Renew Together.
The difficult circumstances of these past two years have placed upon our families the heavy burden of worry and uncertainty as they strove to support the educational learning of their children. Our Catholic schools worked closely with parents through the dedicated efforts of trustees, superintendents, teachers and staff, all deeply committed to fulfilling the vision of Catholic education for more than 183,500 students in 450 schools across the province of Alberta. The many acts of sacrificial love made for the sake of our students give witness to our faith, and serve to rebuild, restore and renew Catholic education. Together, our parish and school communities encourage parents to continue to choose a Catholic school for their children. We are grateful for the treasure that is Catholic education, and are eager to share it.
Catholic Education Sunday is an annual event that serves to celebrate the important and critical role that our Catholic schools play in the province of Alberta. It provides us with an opportunity to recognize the vibrant faith that is the foundation of our Catholic schools, and encourages us to reflect with gratitude on the countless blessings to be found within the Catholic educational community. Catholic Education Sunday also serves to challenge each of us to step forward as advocates, inspired and emboldened to ensure the future of Catholic education as an essential dimension of the mission of the Church.
We, the Bishops of Alberta, recognize the vital role of Catholic education in the life and future of the Church and society. We are deeply committed to ensuring the integrity of our Catholic schools and the gift of faith offered to our students and their families. With hope and boldness, we must rebuild, restore and renew together the wonderful legacy of Catholic education.
As the pandemic continues to challenge us, we encourage all who have worked tirelessly to promote Catholic education to stay strong, continue your good work, pray for inspiration and guidance, and be strengthened in the promise offered to all believers: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast”. (1Peter 5:10)
In this Year of St Joseph, during May’s Catholic Education Week, we consecrated all of Alberta’s Catholic schools to the loving care of St Joseph. As we continue to ask for the intercession of our patron saint, we call all the faithful across our province to unite in a novena prayer for our Catholic Schools.
Publicly funded Catholic education is a gift which must not be taken for granted. Our commitment to Catholic education is steadfast. Together with the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association (ACSTA), the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta (CCSSA) and Grateful Advocates for Catholic Education (GrACE), we shall continue our efforts to ensure the future of Catholic education in our province.
United in prayer, let us humbly and confidently ask our loving God to rebuild, restore and renew all of our Catholic schools through His providential care.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Catholic Bishops of Alberta and NWT
Pope Francis recently said, "It is a matter of being more attentive to the genuineness of the good rather than the name and provenance of those who did it." This is the way I was raised and given the example of my parents. After immigrating to Canada, they worked tirelessly to provide opportunities for our family. Their modelling showed me the meaning of making sacrifices, looking out for each other and most significantly, the magnitude of letting your actions do the talking. We are all called to bring Christ to one another. We don't have to be celebrities, superstars, or professional athletes to be role models. We influence people every day through our words and actions.
My experiences as a teacher and administrator in Catholic education have also confirmed for me the huge influence that we have on people's lives. I am most grateful to serve as a member of a community of faith in all that I do. I'm privileged to witness the value of lifelong learning permeated with faith formation. Pope Francis has greatly influenced my faith journey when he says, "Let us ask our Lord to help us understand that love is service, love means taking care of others. "In every moment of every day, there is someone who needs our love and support.
It is vitally important to extend our relationships beyond those we interact with on a daily basis to the marginalized and at-risk in our world. One way to foster these relationships is through service. Serving others does not always require difficult or strenuous action. More frequently, it calls for the quiet (but more powerful) acts of listening with awareness and empathy and offering guidance when needed. Father Richard Rohr writes: “If we are not deliberate about our relationships with those who are at risk in the world, the result is a divide that convinces the comfortable and secure that all is well and persuades the poor that there is no hope, and regardless of what else we do, we must stay connected in some kind of face-to-face way with the persons and the places at risk."
My journey has taken me to what Pope Francis calls the peripheries. By encountering and supporting the vulnerable in their environments, I believe they begin to see me as a face of hope. Pope Francis says, "In a very real way, the poor are our teachers. They show us that people's value is not measured by their possessions or how much money they have in the bank. A poor person lacking material possessions always maintains his or her dignity. The poor can teach us much about humility and trust in God."
The greatest gift I have to share is my gift of time. When I gift this to someone else, I am offering a part of me that I do not expect to get back. Through these encounters we are constantly presented with opportunities to shape our legacies. To quote Saint John Paul II, "The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being." At the end of the day, we will not be remembered because of things we have acquired or personal successes. Rather, our legacies will be built on the human interactions and relationships we have fostered, nurtured, and cultivated, and by the love we show to whomever God places in front of us.
As a young mom with a daughter ready to attend kindergarten, I was not sure which school I could trust my young and impressionable daughter to. Who would be good enough to teach her? I worked in the public division, yet my heart was being called to the Catholic school. I knew no one who worked there, so I decided to make an appointment to have a tour of Holy Family Academy in Brooks.
When I walked in, I felt something different. There was a sense of peace and calm. A welcoming presence washed over me. The Bible verse, “Let the children come to me” was exactly what I saw myself doing; letting my child go to these teachers. I wanted my daughter’s faith formation to begin with authentic relationships where prayer was spoken and open, and honest conversations were had on a daily basis. When I reflected on who would be good enough to teach my child, it was God. He had to be placed first as an educator and in my daughter’s life. I was grateful to know that I had a choice where my daughter could attend school. I know God led me to Holy Family Academy.
It has been wonderful to watch her grow and to see the amazing woman she has become, mostly due to the teachers who shaped and molded her and taught her of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. This was where the seeds were planted. When our second daughter was born, we knew that she would attend Holy Family Academy as well. No questions asked. The decision was easy to make!
My work at the public school division made it tough for me to share in celebrations and events with her. I remember at a church event on Pentecost Sunday I walked up to the principal of Holy Family Academy and I told her that I was going to work for her one day. Unbelievably, that next year I was hired and I have been with Christ the Redeemer ever since. I have not looked back. Here I can openly pray for a student and make the sign of my faith. I am so grateful to work where my daughters went to school and be a part of their learning. I feel so blessed.
I have learned that God stretches you when you least expect it. I am not the same person I was twenty years ago. He has been at work leading and guiding me, as I walk and pray in ways I had never done before. The opportunities the school has offered me have been such a gift. Face to Face and NET retreats, listening to musicians and guest speakers, school masses, adoration, the Martha Retreat Centre, Faith Days, and Mission trips…all of these experiences have such a special place in my heart. When Mother Mary called me to go to Medjugorje and Knock Ireland, Christ the Redeemer allowed me to go. World Youth Day and the Holy Land were only dreams in my eyes, yet God made it a reality. It is all by the grace of God!
God has stretched me in my classes at work. When teachers have encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try teaching a new class, their words, “I believe you could do this”, made a huge difference. Their encouragement was a gift. My students have been my everything. They are the reason I am called to my vocation. I have joy when I wake up and know I get to do what I love. This is not a job, it is my calling and I am so glad God chose me to be a part of the Brooks Catholic Schools and Catholic Education. God is so good, all the time!
I was born into a faithful farm family who attended church regularly. My sister and I were among the little people who flocked to Sunday School and ran around the church basement while our parents served coffee and visited with other members of the congregation. It was with sincere devotion that I was baptized as an infant and confirmed by my own choice as an adult in the United Church.
My journey continued in the United Church when I was married, and my husband and I welcomed two beautiful children into our family. We were living in Edmonton and I was teaching at a public school when my husband received the news that he was being transferred to work in Calgary. Shortly after arriving there, we needed to look at schools for the children. As a teacher, I started to research the schools in the area and found myself drawn to the Calgary Catholic Board. My husband was baptized Catholic and so we enrolled in the neighbourhood Catholic School.
I was thrilled with the education my children received and even more excited about the learning they were doing in regard to faith. They came home with stories about their lessons and asked questions about what they were learning. The more they asked, the more I thought about my responses and I was not satisfied. I attended liturgies at school and asked questions of my husband but felt like I needed more in order to support my children on this path that I had chosen for them.
Soon, I found myself in the office at St. Albert the Great Parish and enrolled in the RCIA program. “Information is what I need”. “It is for the children”. “I am happy with my faith and the United Church”. These were the lines that I was telling myself and they were what got me started; my feet in the door I guess you could say. As we hear so often, “God works in mysterious ways”. The more I learned at RCIA, and the more I volunteered at the school, the more invested I became.
Wednesday nights became the best night of the week as I joined my sponsor and delved deeper into the faith. RCIA allowed me to grow and expand on the faith that had been fostered in me as a child. As an adult, I am acutely aware of the fact that I had an opportunity to look at faith in a new way and to choose it for myself (with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and many other faithful companions). Now, as a Catholic school teacher, I am blessed daily to learn and grow in faith alongside my students. It is with humble appreciation that I embrace each day of learning that will last a lifetime and beyond.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers