Here we are, blessed with another school year to teach, guide and love as Christ loves. What an incredible gift it is to be part of the mission of Catholic Education in Canada.
2021 has not been an easy year and it’s not lost on us that our schools are feeling the impact of the added stress on trustees / board representatives, school principals and leaders, teachers and staff, families and students.
In this holy season of Advent and Christmas, we look with great anticipation to the hope found in Jesus. While our schools and offices are filled with countless tasks demanding our attention in this busy season, may we have the courage to be still and fix our eyes on the Word Made Flesh: the Christ, who comes to bring His Light in this darkness.
Over this past year, we witnessed this Light in school principals and teachers who spent themselves in selfless love trying to bring peace to anxious students and families… We witnessed this Light in the Catholic School Communities which rallied together to keep our schools safe and strong … and we witnessed this Light in the growing Faith of students learning to put their trust in Christ amidst the difficulties of the Pandemic.
In a world searching for the Light, let us continue to work together to ensure our Catholic Schools shine brightly with the Light of Christ. We pray that each of you finds the hope and Light of Christ this Christmas Season.
If you’re struggling to preserve the peace in your school, check out our November article, “Drawing From our Faith to Find Peace in the Pandemic”
I write this message on the wonderful Feast of Christ the King. I do so giving thanks to God for the precious gift of Catholic education and the vocation we share as Catholic School Trustees.
In his 2012 booklet entitled, “Christ at the Centre”, Bishop Marcus Stock wrote:
“The first key reason why Catholic schools are established, then, is to be part of the Church’s mission in education, to place Christ and the teaching of the Catholic Church at the centre of people’s (students) lives.”
While not diminishing current challenges, what an incredible privilege we as Catholic School Trustees share with others to boldly proclaim that:
“Christ is the reason, the teacher, the model, the awesome inspiration for all we do and all we are.”
In reflecting on this important responsibility and discerning the “signs of the times”, I believe there is real need for Catholic School Trustees throughout Canada to “name” and “claim” the Catholic Identity of our schools. More than ever those within the Catholic community and the general public “must see the what and the why” and most especially the “who” of Catholic schools/education.
We know that the past 20 months have brought numerous and extremely complex challenges to all sectors of society including our church and Catholic schools. From the smallest Catholic school to the largest Catholic school board, trustees, system and school leaders, teachers and support staff have worked heroically in the best interest of the students they serve. You are to be commended for placing priority on the health and safety of your students and staff while continuing to provide excellence in Catholic education throughout these unprecedented times.
I look forward to seeing you at the 2022 C.C.S.T.A Annual General Meeting in Blue Mountain and meeting many of you at Provincial Association gatherings next year. On behalf of the C.C.S.T.A Board of Directors and our dedicated staff, I wish you all of God’s blessings for a Happy and Holy Christmas and a new year filled with much joy.
Every Child deserves a Catholic Education.
Give the Gift of Catholic Education this Christmas by supporting our Toonies for Tuition Campaign.
Join us at the beautiful Blue Mountain Resort in Blue Mountain, Ontario for our Annual CCSTA AGM:
June 2 – 4, 2022
How truly thrilled we are to be announcing the 2022 in-person CCSTA AGM!
After a long season of being distanced in our separate regions and provinces across Canada, we couldn’t be happier to be gathering our CCSTA Community in one location to celebrate and discuss the works of our Catholic schools!
Whether it’s sharing stories over morning coffee, enjoying the special events or diving into the sessions, we hope the 2022 AGM provides lots of opportunities for reconnecting, sharing and building up the spirit of Catholic Education from coast to coast.
About The Theme
This year’s theme, Rejoicing in God’s Creation, draws its inspiration from Pope Francis and his essential message of respecting the integrity of creation in our shared world. Throughout the conference, we will be focussing on three interrelated ideas:
Environmental Stewardship, Social Justice & our relationship with Indigenous peoples
We believe this will provide an excellent foundation on which to build an inspiring and memorable conference.
About the Logo
● Incorporates shades of green, a colour that represents life, renewal, nature, energy and growth
● The circular shape of the logo represents the circular shape of our earth – “God’s creation”
● The grey hand (a complimentary colour to the green) represents how we should care for God’s creation – environmental stewardship and social justice are strong themes/focus of the conference
● The gender-neutral icon in green is clearly “rejoicing” – almost cheerleader-like.
The Spectacular Location:
The 2022 CCSTA AGM will be hosted at the stunning Blue Mountain Resorts, Blue Mountains, Ontario! The Blue Mountain Resorts and Conference Centres offer fantastic amenities featuring lovely views of the mountain and Georgian Bay. Located moments away from all accommodation types, dining and shopping of the Blue Mountain Village. The inside of the facility aims to bring the beauty of the outdoors in.
How do I register?
● Registration will be offered online in mid-January 2022 (link below)
● Booking of hotel rooms will be made directly with the resort and the group code will be included in the website.
About the 2022 Speakers & Sessions:
Read more about our Keynote Speakers and Session Topics.
What to expect for Covid-19 Measures:
In order to attend the in-person AGM/Convention, attendees are required to be fully vaccinated and local public health orders will be followed. Guests are to provide proof of vaccination in certain resort areas including: Dining areas and bars/nightclubs, indoor gyms, meeting / conference spaces & events.
Details about providing proof of vaccination will be shared by the service provider directly. Current guidelines remain in place and can be reviewed online at Covid-19 Policies and Procedures (www.bluemountain.ca). Unless seated in your function space, wearing a mask is mandatory in all indoor spaces, hotel and conference facility public spaces and on select attractions. For more information, please see the CCSTA Duty of Care Statement.
Where can I register and stay up-to-date?
The 2022 AGM Website is currently being developed and we’re hopeful it will be ready for viewing and registration by mid-January! Keep checking back for the latest updates, news and highlights.
CCSTA would like to thank the 2022 CCSTA AGM Organizing Committee for all of their hard work and efforts in bringing us back together again!
See you all in June!
This time last year, I stated that the past year (2020) had been a very challenging school year. The same can be said for the 2021 year. The good news is that since September, the vast majority of our students have been able to return to the classroom. With few exceptions, there is no doubt that in class learning is preferable when compared to virtual learning. With a vaccine for our younger students on the horizon, hopefully school closures will soon be a thing of the past. Equally as important is the ability of most school districts to be able to offer a full range of extra-curricular activities. We all know how important these activities are in terms of providing a well-rounded education.
One of the direct benefits of students being in school is that they will be able to celebrate the Christmas season. The celebration of Christmas liturgies, and the additional activities that take place, are always a highlight of the school year. It affords schools the opportunity to focus on the true meaning of the Christmas season.
Another positive sign is the slow return to in-person meetings. While virtual meeting platforms are very effective ways to conduct business, there is no doubt face-to-face gatherings are also very important. To that end, our February Board meeting and Lobby Day on Parliament Hill are scheduled to take place in Ottawa in early February. One advantage of virtual meetings is that while we will hold face-to-face meetings with MPs in Ottawa, we will also use a hybrid model and schedule virtual meetings throughout the week. This strategy will allow us to connect with a greater number of MPs.
Our 2022 AGM/Convention is scheduled to take place in beautiful Collingwood, Ontario at the Blue Mountain resort. Planning is well under way and the survey we sent out earlier this year clearly indicated that delegates are in favour of attending in person. We will offer a virtual option for those who wish to hear the speakers. Registration information will be sent out in the New Year. A sincere thank you to the planning committee, as the AGM/Convention in Blue Mountain was originally scheduled to take place in June 2020, and they have had to plan the event twice – no small task. The committee hosting the 2023 AGM in Saskatoon has had to deal with the same issue. The flexibility shown by both committees is greatly appreciated.
Our Toonies Campaign continues to provide much needed tuition assistance to schools in provinces that do not receive full funding. We are optimistic that with the return to in school learning, fundraising activities will pick up. Given the circumstances of the past year, the campaign was a success, but the requests for support continue to be greater than the monies received. Any support for the campaign is greatly appreciated.
In spite of all the challenges, it comes as no surprise that during these difficult times the Catholic Education community has continued to provide not only a first rate education, but also supports required by students, their families and staff. Thank you all.
In closing, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and all the best in 2022.
Despite the challenges of the Pandemic, generosity shone in Catholic Schools across Canada
Read more about how our schools continued to contribute to our Toonies for Tuition Campaign last year!
“People are very brittle”.
That was the comment Archbishop Chatlain made to me when we were walking last week. Brittle. That does seem to be the condition of so may people 20 months – twenty months! – into this Pandemic.
Brittle. Easily angered. Lacking in patience. Opinions crystalizing people into camps. Prickly and intolerant.
Remember the wife of Lot? She turned into a pillar of salt looking backwards at Sodom. Are we so brittle because we only look backwards to what we have lost? Have we turned into pillars crystallized into bitterness towards people – unvaccinated or vaccinated? One cannot be salt of the earth – spreading peace and joy into peoples’ lives if you are a self-enclosed pillar of salt standing alone on top of the earth.
Our Church year in School and life begins in Advent.
Advent is a looking-forward time.
The signs of the collapse of Sodom and Gomorrah are indeed around us.
Troops mass on borders, environmental destabilization is around us, social divisions metastasize fed by huge media and state corporations, viruses mutate, and – as Jesus said,
“People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world” (Luke 21:25).
Fear makes people brittle. Fear freezes people into pillars.
Advent comes to us brittle people and speaks serious hope:
“27Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28
Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads,
because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21)
Stop looking backward! Stop seeing everything through the lens of earthly power and politics! Lift up your head and see – The Son of Man is coming on a cloud. Soon and very soon.
He has come already. Not as a pillar of self-righteous salt to stand sternly on the earth but as a “righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” (Jer. 33:15).
A living branch of justice “springing up from the earth”.
The powers of the world tried to nail that branch to the Cross of hopeless – but the Living Branch that is Jesus even carried that awful Dead Tree into the salvation that gives a name to each and all of our lives: “The Lord is our Righteousness”.
What to do?
Lift up and see Redemption entering into our lives. Coming to set us free from the sin-wrought brittleness of our souls.
How does He come?
In the marvellous Sacrament of Penance.
If there is no forgiveness, there is no end to brittleness.
No forgiveness is possible without being forgiven.
Ours is a society in which everything is “permitted” but nothing is forgiven.
Jesus and His Church is a family in which loving care proposes boundaries to behaviour … and in which everything is forgivable. Everything, save the sin of saying the Holy Spirit is not at work forgiving us in the Church.
And so, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation we must go.
We will bring the sins that freeze us in brittleness and realize that these are the sins that fashioned the Cross that crucified the Jesus.
And then, seeing Jesus coming through the clouds of our sins “with power and great glory” in our lives – we shall find ourselves no longer brittle pillars looking at what we have lost but living branches of healing hope celebrating Christ’s coming as the World passes away.