In March of 2020, our world changed irrevocably with the immediate implementation of lockdowns, churches shuttering their doors and frequent moves to online learning for many students. We knew the pandemic and ensuring restrictions would impact upon our students but to what degree remained to be seen. During the nearly two years of living through a pandemic, students have repeatedly shown us a myriad of reactions and emotions to the ongoing issues and restrictions that have become a daily reality. As a Catholic school community, we have consistently sought to remind students of God’s continuous love for them, and that they play a very real and necessary part in God’s plan of Salvation. Faith and hope in the future are front and centre of our Christian message. Thankfully, this important and timely message was integral to an important day that we planned especially for our middle-year students at Bishop David Motiuk School and delivered virtually on January 27th, as part of our annual Faith Day.
This was a day created specifically for our students to connect with God and to find inspiration for building community within our school. We began the day with a simple but profound Liturgy led by Father Paul Kavanagh and Deacon Ryan Sales. This led us into sessions with three guest speakers. Father Leo Patalinghug, a priest and professional chef from Boston, led us on an entertaining but meaningful journey to develop our understanding of Jesus as food for our mind, body, and soul. Deacon Ryan Sales of Edmonton, shared his heartfelt journey to becoming a Deacon and how the journey is just as important as the destination. He reminded students that they are already living God’s plan for them. Finally, we finished the morning off with a video presentation created by Father Rob Galea, an Australian priest and international speaker at youth conferences, who was also a contestant on Australia’s Got Talent. Fr. Rob touched on the pandemic and how technology has been a wonderful way for us to keep in contact with each other but that it cannot replace personal connection and community. All the videos shared were specifically recorded for Bishop David Motiuk's MYP Faith Day, which was such a blessing to our school community. The sessions were directly relevant to and meant for our students during this time of great upheaval.
The execution of the day was a collaboration between several of our staff members who have become experts in navigating the challenges presented by the current pandemic restrictions. Many students shared wonderful reflections on what they heard, saw, and experienced as inspiration as they continued to live by the restrictions of a difficult school year. Many remarked that it was like the presenters were speaking directly to them and what they are going through.
As Catholic educators, we continue to teach through the lens of our faith tradition and our scriptures. We commit ourselves to “bringing Christ into our classrooms” so that students recognize that all of the facets of life and action are imbued by the presence and compassion of our loving Lord. Taking a special day each year to remind our students through the wisdom of great speakers, that we are meant for God, is a privileged opportunity to engage in the ongoing mission of evangelization. Our students are aware that the Lord accompanies them through difficult times, as members of a family, of a larger society, and at school. They know they are loved by God because they see it in action around them, and they hear about it through events such as our MYP Faith Day. What a grace it is to be able to cooperate with the Lord in sharing the beautiful message that reminds students that, “I am here with you always.” Our speakers tell us the truth of this message, and demonstrate through their inspirational talks, just where and how the Lord works in the ordinary, and in the extraordinary events such as a pandemic to draw us closer to the life of faith and hope
Written by Sunata Halliday from Edmonton Catholic School District.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers