I have always been surrounded by people who lived the Gospel values. I grew up in 212 Wellington Street North until I was 15 years old and graduated from Cathedral high school. I attended All Souls Parish, often experiencing the mass in Italian. We gave thanks before meals “Grazie tanto” and before bed. Every bedroom, car, and living room hosted a spot for a cross made from the blessed palms. My grandmother prayed the rosary daily, went on parish retreats with her Church community, and my grandfather participated in Sunday mass by viewing it on the television when he fell too ill to head to Church (a practice that became very familiar for many of us during Covid). My closest relatives were devoted to Padre Pio and prayed relentlessly to Saint Rita on behalf of all of their loved ones. In fact, my mother still sends promises to the Monastery of Saint Rita of Cascia.
In 2004, my grandmother passed peacefully in her sleep. I was expecting my second child and soon started an extended maternity leave from my teaching job. Raising two children under the age of two years old is a busy job and without the role modeling of my grandmother or the responsibility to my students in front of me, I drifted from the Church, that being the physical home of the Lord. I still believed in God. I prayed with my children before bed. We wrote special prayers of Thanksgiving together mounted on beautiful kinder art for the big holiday feasts. Nonetheless, a void existed.
Upon returning to work, I got my family back into a religious routine and began to once again feel alive spiritually. However, it was not until I began teaching at St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School in 2015 that I felt “full”. The school, parish, and community connection is incredible to witness. At St. Patrick Parish, they work tirelessly and unconditionally to build the inclusive Kingdom of God. I taught at St. Patrick for three years before my calling in education took me to other school communities.
It is with genuine excitement that I answer my calling to return to St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School as Principal. In the true heart of the downtown core, students and staff are inspired to give more, do more, care more, and listen more, especially as neighbours of the DeMazenod Door. I promise to work collaboratively with the parish team to create opportunities for encounters with Jesus, to encourage everyone to use their individual gifts and talents to serve others, and to substantiate a safe learning environment. As a devout Catholic leader, my priority is to nurture the student’s relationship with God and guide students in realizing the Catholic Graduate Expectations. My goal is to help nurture all relationships in our community. Relationships develop when time is spent and invested. My students will have daily encounters with Jesus, through scripture and prayer, through reflection, and through encounters with each other. Like every good teacher and parent, sometimes I will lead by example, and other times I will observe and be present for my lost sheep. My second goal is to inspire each individual to reach their potential and provide the necessary tools to reach that potential.
By Tina Fricano – Principal, St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School
From St. Patrick Church Values Statement:
Our children and youth have an important part in the life of our community. We value Catholic education. Therefore, we commit to good and faithful cooperation with the Catholic Schools of our parish. We strive to offer our young people a life-giving experience of the living Church, forming them as disciples of Jesus Christ.”