One of the most powerful things I have ever done as a Catholic Educator is to open a new Catholic School in Airdrie. The name selection process was part of the beginning of creating our new school. In hindsight, it is amazing how important a school name is, especially a Catholic School name. On the day that our new school name was going to be announced, I was away on a retreat. Coincidentally we were doing the Stations of the Cross and I strategically volunteered to do the readings for Station 6: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus. Later that day when our school name was announced at the retreat, many of my coworkers were amazed that I had been selected to do the readings for Station 6. They believed it was divine intervention. I really didn’t have the heart to tell them that I had requested that station knowing that St. Veronica was our new school name!
A month later, in May of 2019, we gathered together as a staff for the very first time. With our new teachers, admin and our District Supervisor of Catholic Education we began to explore all things about St. Veronica. There is no history or mention of St. Veronica in the Bible, nor is there any knowledge of her life before or after she wiped the face of Jesus. Yet, her single selfless act to wipe the face of Jesus on his way to crucifixion remains a keystone piece of the Stations of the Cross. Her veil, the Veil of Veronica, is a sacred artifact displayed once a year at the Vatican.
Our goal that day with our staff was to generate a motto and a mission statement for our new school. The teachers reviewed scripture, watched videos and worked in groups to identify the significant characteristics of St. Veronica. It took a whole day but together they created our motto. First with three key words: Faith, Compassion, Courage. Then the teachers expanded the motto to create our mission statement: Inspired by Faith. Moved by Compassion. Led by Courage.
I was so proud of our staff, as I truly believed they had captured the real essence of who St. Veronica was. These characteristics would form the foundation for students at our school. Our patron saint, St. Veronica, is the perfect example of how to use your faith, your compassion, and your courage to do the right thing, even when that is very difficult. This is a beautiful message to share with children. So many aspects of school life relate back to this gentle, faithful woman who choose to perform a true act of kindness when Christ needed it most. Connecting this to our ability to see Christ in others and to support the way Veronica supported Jesus is a powerful message for all students at St. Veronica School.
When you ask, What’s in a name? I believe that at St. Veronica School the name Veronica challenges each of our students to be inspired by faith, to be moved by compassion for others and to let courage guide them to do the right thing. What better role model is there for children?
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers