The Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association and the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan broke new ground in the fall, joining forces to host a conference celebrating Catholic health and education in the province.
Entitled One Lord, One Call: a rainbow of ministries, the unique conference took place at the beginning of November in Regina, bringing the two organizations together for education and relationship-building.
Conferences are nothing new for SCSBA, as it has held its Affirming Hope event every three years. Inviting all of its Catholic partners to take part, the organization has hosted five such conferences. But the partnership with CHASSK was something original and the One Lord, One Call conference was a first for both organizations. Not only did it prove to be a learning and networking opportunity, but it also served as the annual general meeting for the two organizations.
Ken Loehndorf, executive director of SCSBA, said a joint committee was formed to organize the event, keeping in mind the commitment to actively supporting Catholic health and education. “To us, this is a very logical partnership,” he said. “The intent is to learn more about each other – and I feel we succeeded in that.”
Two keynote speakers included Jesse Manibusan, speaking on Living What You Hope, and David Wells, speaking about serving a distracted and diverse culture, while rediscovering Catholic confidence. In associated seminars, the speakers also touched on creating secular moments in everyday endeavours as well as preventing the onset of disillusionment.
The event also included two opportunities for small-group sessions. With eight delivered by Saskatchewan’s Catholic School Boards, it gave an opportunity to share positive aspects of what each board was delivering. Similarly, the healthcare side presented two sessions. These enabled the two organizations to get to know each other, by hearing first-hand accounts of the positive happenings occurring in both Catholic education and healthcare in the province.
Loehndorf said education and visioning is crucial now more than ever – for both organizations. “In these times, Catholic health and education are being challenged,” he said. “We’re all in the same business, we’re all promoting Catholic teaching and values, so it’s important to share information and strengthen positive partnerships.”
In addition to learning and fostering good relationships, the event at its core was also about celebrating Catholic health and education in the Saskatchewan. To that end, the event included a joint awards banquet, which enabled both sides to showcase and recognize the people who made contributions. Loehndorf said this experience was special for the SCSBA as its awards banquet is usually held on a smaller scale. At the November conference, more than 300 people attended the banquet at a large venue, adding to the overall excitement of the event.
Loehndorf noted that the conference was also made special by the attendance of all four of Saskatchewan’s Catholic Bishops, for either a portion or the entirety, of the event. “That was a highlight for us,” he said, of the Bishops’ presence.
At the conference’s culmination, the two organizations received encouraging reaction. “I was pleased with the positive feedback from the participants,” Loehndorf said, noting an exit survey at the end of the event garnered supportive responses.
Since the November One Lord, One Call conference, Loehndorf said both the SCSBA and the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan have shown interest in organizing a similar event again, with a possible 2015 goal in the works.