It was an absolute joy to gather virtually on June 2nd with our CCSTA members to kick-off our 2022 AGM with two excellent keynote speakers.
After having decided to opt for a virtual meeting instead of in-person, the CCSTA board began discerning an appropriate theme for this year. As we looked to the upcoming Synod in the Church, and Pope Francis’ strong emphasis on “synodality” this year, it seemed fitting to adopt this as our AGM Theme and invite our members into deeper discussions of what the Synod is and how it impacts Catholic Education.
The day began with our first keynote speaker, Spencer West, with his engaging and hope-filled presentation, ‘Redefining Possible.” He opened the presentation by sharing his incredibly inspiring story of choosing hope and determination in the midst of the many difficulties he has faced in his life.
Due to a serious health condition, both of his legs were removed as a child and Spencer and his parents were told that he would never walk or be able to function as a ‘normal’ member of society. Instead of facing this tragic news with despair and accepting the limits of his diagnosis, Spencer’s supportive family focused on redefining what was possible for him.
As Spencer took the CCSTA Members through the inspiring stories and events of his life, he encouraged them to remain hopeful despite the setbacks they’d faced as educators during the pandemic. Always hoping to use his story to help others, Spencer frequently connected the extraordinary events of his life with the potential everyone has to redefine what is possible for them by simply focusing on what’s possible.
Spencer is a passionate advocate for those living with disability and encouraged Catholic Educators to remain open and encouraging to the possibilities of their students, particularly those struggling with any type of barrier or difficulty. He encouraged all of those involved in Catholic Education to ensure our schools are places where facilities don’t exclude those in wheelchairs or physical disabilities and reminded us of how schools can be powerful places of encouragement, hope and redefining what’s possible.
Our second presenter was His Eminence Cardinal Gérald C. Cardinal Lacroix, Metropolitan Archbishop of Quebec, who spoke to members specifically about the upcoming Synod. Our members were blessed to hear an excellent presentation aiming to answer some key questions on the theme of the Synod. What does Synodality mean for our Church? Why is Pope Francis continuing to draw from this theme? How can we participate in the Church’s global movement of Synodality?
Drawing from the three key words at the centre of the Synod, Communion, Participation and Mission, His Eminence articulated why each of these aspects is fundamental to a synodal or ‘listening’ Church. He reminded members that Pope Francis has encouraged all Catholics to be part of this important moment in the Church, which he says is simply “what God expects of the Church in the 21st Century.”
Sharing his own experience of adopting a ‘synodal’ mentality within his own diocesan meetings, his Eminence encouraged CCSTA members to practice synodality – a listening spirit – at all meetings and conversations surrounding Catholic Education. He shared how a listening and discerning spirit can create a deep peace and unity when it comes to decisions and outcomes of meetings. From a listening spirit, he shared, we can learn to be a more unified Church, walking forward into the future together with a shared mission.
CCSTA is extremely grateful to all members who joined us for our 2022 AGM. Gathering together is a significant part of creating unity across Canada in our common mission of Catholic Education. This year, despite the setbacks and reorganizing of events mid-year, we were deeply grateful for the opportunity to gather, reconnect and look to the future of Catholic Education with hope.
We look forward to our in-person AGM in Saskatoon in June 2023! See here for more information!