Catholic Education Week 2017
by Mary Craig
My name is Mary Craig and I am a parishioner at St. Patrick Parish and was a teacher at Cathedral High School for seven years and also had the joy of working right next door at St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School for five years. I was invited by Mrs. S. Verelli, Principal of St. Patrick to share a short message with you.
This week is Catholic Education week – where we focus on and celebrate how fortunate we are in Ontario to have the gift of Catholic schools to collaborate with our parishes and families in the formation of young people.
This year Cathedral has selected HOPE as its spiritual focus, and St. Patrick’s parishioner and Grade 12 student Olivia Taylor proposed the passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans that reads “We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” as our scriptural guide for the year.
I would like to briefly share with you what has been my hope as teacher and to also take this moment to thank our parish for is the opportunity to introduce students to this anchor, the anchor of faith in Jesus, for them to hold on to during the storms in their lives both now and in the future.
This anchor gets built each time the parish welcomes students and staff into the church – for our staff retreats, for school Masses, living rosary, sacraments. Last month we brought students to visit the DeMazenod Door Outreach and Homeless Jesus and last year we even brought students to Holy Thursday’s Eucharist. Then-when our school community comes to the doors of the church to mourn the loss of a fellow student at their funeral or a group of teachers joins the parish for 12:15 pray for a sick member of our community we already have a strong anchor in knowing they have a home in our church.
The anchor is added on to each time the parish team and parishioners reach out to our students and their school initiatives-supporting special breakfasts at breakfast club, visiting the playground during special events, bringing our parish puppies (who are almost to big to be called puppies!) to visit before exams to calm anxious students, helping with Coffee Houses or Halloween for Hunger or even in cyber-space re-tweeting and liking our school’s tweets and posts. Their anchor grows stronger as students hear the message from our parish that they are valued and important for our church.
Finally, the anchor grows stronger when you pray with and for us. These have been challenging years for our schools-we have lost students and staff members to cancer and other tragic deaths as well as struggled with other challenges (just ask any high school student in the parish about the roof!). Throughout this time St. Pats has welcomed us into the church to pray or joined us as we’ve prayed at school. And I’m proud to tell you your prayers have resulted in such a strong anchor of hope and prayer for our students. This past March, when one of our teachers was having surgery-students willingly packed the chapel-over 100 seats full for six straight hours, rotating in and out all day and overflowing into the halls. I don’t think any of us that were there that day will ever forget the spirit of prayer and hope in the school that day. The parish’s example and willingness to meet students where they are has helped us form our students as people of hope and prayer.
Like this week’s Gospel, where the Jesus met the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the theme chosen for Catholic Education Week in Ontario is Walking Forward Together. As we walk forward, please continue to pray for and support our Catholic schools this week and always.