CCSTA is saddened by the recent passing of a strong Catholic education supporter and dear friend, Tony Sykora. Tony passed away on Jan. 1, 2017 with his family by his side.
Tony’s long-time commitment to Catholic education first started in Grade 1.
He attended Catholic Schools from Grade 1-12 in Edmonton, Alberta. Upon moving to Sherwood Park and sending his own children to Catholic Schools, he became involved as a volunteer and a school council member. He was encouraged to run for the position of Catholic Trustee for Elk Island Catholic Schools in 1997, and was elected. He later served as Chair of the Board for nine years and President of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association (ACSTA) for four years. He became a member of the CCSTA Board of Directors in 2011, and just this past year, was elected Vice President at the 2016 AGM in Yellowknife, NWT.
When elected as Vice President this past summer, Tony remained true to the spirit of Catholic education and role of trustee.
“I believe a Faith-based education based on the Gospel Values of Jesus Christ is essential for the development of young people as they shape future societies,” he said. “Although Catholic Education is protected by constitutional guarantees, it is important to never get complacent about the gift of Catholic Education and ever important to demonstrate to other Catholics that we provide an education to our young people that honours the mission of the Catholic Church. We must also demonstrate and articulate that Catholic Education provides excellent value to society as a whole.”
He said it’s essential that we share the successful story of Catholic Education across Canada, and continue to enhance relationships with the Catholic Bishops of Canada and Members of Parliament. “This will ensure that Catholic Education is available to parents who wish for an education for their children founded on the Gospel teachings of Jesus Christ,” he said.
CCSTA Reflects on Tony’s Impact
Tony’s work on the national level was greatly appreciated by the CCSTA family. “Tony was a great supporter of Catholic Education not only in Alberta but across the country,” says CCTSA Executive Director Julian Hanlon. “More important though was his positive attitude and willingness to tackle any task no matter how difficult. He will be missed by all.”
CCSTA Executive Assistant Jean Montminy fondly remembers Tony’s good humour and his ability to make others feel welcomed.
CCSTA President Marino Gazzola was honoured to work alongside Tony.
“Catholic education in Alberta and all of Canada has lost a dedicated and committed supporter,” Marino says. “Tony was well respected at all levels and never wavered on his commitment. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”
Tony’s two-decade-long involvement as a trustee made an impact on the provincial level. ACSTA shared some moving thoughts on Tony’s wisdom, mentorship and leadership.
“In his humble, unassuming way Tony, was a faith filled and faith full servant leader of God who advocated and defended passionately and enthusiastically, not only Catholic Education, but the Catholic faith as a whole. Tony took every challenge presented to him – discerned the guidance of God, consulted the wisdom of the team and experts and navigated ACSTA to its current position as a respected voice for Catholic education in Alberta and beyond. The genuine, positive relationships he cultivated with other associations, political officials, faith leaders, trustees, administrators continues to bear fruit and has been evidenced by the multitude who have shown their expressions of care, concern and love from around the world. Tony was an authentic disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ – it just doesn’t get much better than that in this life – and he will be deeply missed by all of those who were privileged to have known and loved him,” the ACSTA stated.
Tony will be remembered by his wife of 38 years, Debbie, and two children, Holly and Stephen.