On June 3, 2023, Teresita Chiarella was acclaimed as the CCSTA President after serving as Vice-President. Teresita has a strong passion for the mission of Catholic Education in Canada and a firm belief in Canadian parents’ rights to choose the education they want for their children. She and her husband Anthony live in Winnipeg, MB where they are active members of St. Timothy Parish. They have one daughter who currently resides in Montreal.
We’re thrilled to have Teresita as our new leader and asked her to share with us some of the highlights of her work in Catholic Education and her goals for her time as CCSTA President.
Read below to learn more about Teresita!
1. How long and in what capacity have you been working in Catholic Education?
My work in Catholic Education has been for the most part in a volunteer capacity since 2005. I have been a member of a Catholic School’s Board of Directors, and have been on advisory boards to the Archbishops of Winnipeg and St. Boniface Dioceses. However, I have since retired this summer from my employment as the Executive Director of the Manitoba Federation of Independent Schools. For the last six years, I worked for this umbrella group for funded-independent schools of which the Catholic schools are members. The primary goal of the Federation is to protect parental rights to choose the education for their children, and the funding agreement.
2. What originally drew you to the mission of Catholic Education?
I was born and raised Catholic. I attended Catholic schools from Kindergarten until Grade 8 before my family immigrated to Canada from the Philippines. Education and formation in the Catholic faith are important to my husband and me, and our daughter attended Catholic schools growing up. That was the beginning of my active involvement in the mission of Catholic Education. It seemed a natural extension of my faith development.
3. What are some of the ways you see Catholic Schools playing an important role in Canada?
Wow, where to begin?! If our Catholic schools remain faithful to the teachings of our Catholic faith, then we have an essential role in Canada. Our Christian traditions such as the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, teach us how to treat others as Jesus modeled for us. The history of Canada and its development for hundreds of years shows the multitude of Catholic Religious Orders and organizations that founded or were the origins of many of our current education, healthcare, and social agencies.
Catholic schools continue to play this important role of educating and forming individuals who will care for each other’s well-being and to develop compassionate communities.
4. What are the highlights of your career in Catholic Education?
That God has given me the desire and purpose to serve Him in continuing his mission through Catholic Education. And, to know and work with dedicated individuals committed to upholding and promoting the importance of Catholic Education in Canada!
5. What are some of the challenges you see Canadian Catholic Schools facing in 2023 and how do you see CCSTA being able to respond to some of these challenges?
• The Canadian Catholic Schools, like the Catholic Church, face many challenges today. However, I believe that many of these challenges are rooted in these three fundamental principles:
o To remain faithful and faith-filled as Catholic Schools.
o To have courage amid storms – whatever these may be. Only through the power of the Divine Christ will we be able to have courage in the midst of any storm. We need to focus our gaze on Christ and not on what threatens us in the storms. (Paraphrased from Bishop Robert Barron’s Sunday Gospel Homily, August 13, 2023)
o To be a prayerful community – always seeking and asking for God’s mercy and help through our Lord, Jesus Christ, who will intervene for us.
• CCSTA can respond to the challenges facing Catholic Schools by protecting the rights of parents across the country to have the choice to educate their children in the Catholic faith regardless of the challenges each school faces. This is our common ground, this is our mission!
6. What are your hopes for your time as President of CCSTA?
That CCSTA will continue to be a unified voice for Catholic Education in the country within and despite the variations of our provincial educational jurisdictions. On this note, I hope to get to know the provincial structures of the Catholic Education system, so as to fully understand the fruits and challenges of each one.
I am thrilled to work with the CCSTA Board and Staff and to get to know as many of the Catholic School Trustees across the country! I look forward to serving and collaborating with each one as we work on Christ’s mission in Catholic Education.
Please join us in praying for Teresita as she navigates her new role as President and works to preserve and promote the mission of Catholic Education in Canada.