It is with great joy that the CCSTA Board of Directors announces Joan Carr as the 2022 posthumous recipient of the Justice James Higgins Award.
“...and what does the Lord require of you but to act justly, and to love kindness and walk humbly with your God?”Micah 6:8
Selfless leadership, unwavering faithfulness and a Christ-like presence – these are the marks left by the legacy and ministry of Joan Carr, a true Champion of Catholic Education.
Having spent 45 years in faithful ministry of Catholic Education with the Edmonton Catholic School District, 14 years of which were spent as a Superintendent, Joan made a notable, lasting impact – an impact which led to the nomination and joyful acceptance of Joan as a very worthy recipient of the 2022 Higgins Award.
We know that Catholic schools in Canada could not operate without faithful leaders like Joan, who, one day at a time, with one person at a time, incarnate the love of Christ in our school communities. Joan’s faithful, unrelenting “ yes” to Christ and His mission is the foundation of her long list of admirable successes and long-lasting impact.
Throughout decades of working in Catholic Education, Joan’s primary focus remained on the wellbeing of students. Faced with the many, all-too-familiar struggles of Catholic schools, such as limited funding, increased outcome demands and the many, varied needs of students and families, Joan responded with generosity, creativity and a willingness to “think outside the box”.
This Christ-like approach to each and every challenge led to the creation of outstanding educational programs and initiatives, gaining far-reaching admiration from around Alberta and throughout North America, for their leading-edge innovation.
In reflecting on Joan’s legacy, Sandra Palazzo, Board Chair of Edmonton Catholic School Board, shared,
“The partnerships she fostered with the government and stakeholders resulted in creative approaches to providing education. The use of sports centres, children’s services and libraries for outreach programs for early learning is one example of how she worked with local and provincial governments to meet the needs of students and families…
Joan strongly advocated for programs to serve early learning and vulnerable students. The Early Learning Mobile Unit, as well as One World… One Centre and the Sacred Heart Centre (which provides educational and cultural support to newcomers to Canada and Indigenous families) were ground-breaking programs.”
“Joan never lost sight of the fact that children and Jesus should be at the centre of decision making… At the foundation of Joan Carr was a deep faith and love of our God. She lived her life sharing in the vision of our risen Lord Jesus Christ and working to bring children into closer relationship with Him.” – Remarks submitted in Joan’s nomination for the Higgins Award
Attributed with countless successes throughout her decades of work, the foundation of Joan’s entire ministry in Catholic Education was her love of Jesus and her desire to bring students to Him. Rooted in her own relationship with Christ, she found the enduring strength and dedicated passion to be a true leader in Catholic Education.
Most Reverend David Motiuk, Eparchial Bishop of Edmonton, spoke highly of Joan’s faith and her deep relationship with Christ. “The virtues of faith, hope and mercy were instilled in Joan from an early age and formed her conscience and very being.” he expressed in his letter of support for Joan’s nomination. He continued, “… Joan’s motivation in all this? Joan was inspired by the words of the Prophet Micah (6:8) to ‘…act justly, to love faithfully and to walk humbly with our Lord.’ Indeed this biblical reference appeared on a plaque which stood day after day, year after year, on her office credenza, as a constant reminder for her ministry in Catholic Education.”
A Christ-like Presence
To love and serve the mission of Catholic Education as Joan Carr did, is to bring the presence of Christ into the here and now; into the circumstances and situations which our Catholic schools are facing today. In pouring herself out, selflessly, for 45 years, in service of Catholic Education, Joan brought the unmistakable presence of Christ to the countless students, families and staff she encountered. It is this very presence of Christ which animates a leader to think ‘creatively’ and ‘outside the box’. It’s this presence of Christ which elevates a person from being a leader to being a ‘witness’. It’s this presence of Christ which transforms a board meeting or a school assembly into an opportunity to form saints.
Joan’s life was bursting with the presence of Christ and her legacy was founded upon her desire to give this presence to those around her. This is a witness to all of us of what it means to be a true champion of Catholic Education.
After the CCSTA Board discussed and approved Joan’s nomination, CCSTA President, Patrick Daly, remarked, “It is with great pleasure and deep gratitude that the Canadian Catholic School Trustees’ Association posthumously awards the 2022 Justice James Higgins Award to Joan Carr. We do so in recognition of her 45 years of outstanding service as a Catholic Educator including 14 years of faith filled leadership as Superintendent of Edmonton Catholic schools. We give thanks to God for Joan’s significant contribution to the mission of Catholic education.”
In recognition of Joan’s faithful leadership and the long-lasting legacy which will continue to bear fruit in Catholic Schools for years to come, it is a privilege and honour to posthumously award Joan Carr the 2022 Higgins Award.
Joan will be recognized posthumously at CCSTA’s 2022 virtual AGM on Friday, June 3.