Enthusiasm and joy were the responses from the CCSTA Board of Directors upon the announcement of newly-appointed Patrick Daly as President of CCSTA in June 2021. Patrick is known for his kind, humble demeanor and his strong passion for the work of Catholic Education. Having served the mission of Catholic Education since 1985, Patrick brings decades of experience and insight to this leadership position. As he settles into the President’s Chair, we wanted the chance to learn more about his story of working in Catholic Schools and the “why” behind his sincere faithfulness to the mission of Catholic Education.
From highlights of his career to his thoughts on the future work of CCSTA, here’s an inside look at Patrick’s passion for Catholic Education!
How long have you been working in Catholic Education?
I was first elected/appointed to serve the Catholic ratepayers of Ward 7 in Hamilton, in 1985.
Why were you drawn to the mission of Catholic Education?
With the complete support/partnership of my mother, my father served as a Catholic School Trustee for a number of years. Following his sudden death, I was appointed trustee. The commitment of my parents to our Catholic faith and their recognition of the value/importance of Catholic education inspired me to follow their good example. Their tremendous witness and the dedication of their colleague trustees (including Father Kyran Kennedy) inspired me to serve the Church through my service to Catholic education.
The goodness and unwavering support of my wife Carol has served as a source of encouragement and hope. I was extremely fortunate to grow up/mature in my service as a Catholic School Trustee as our four children (Michael, Kyle, Colleen and Monica) journeyed and benefited tremendously through Catholic elementary and secondary schools.
What are the highlights of your career in Catholic Education?
It has been my tremendous honour to have served as Chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board since 1991 and as President of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association in 1996, 2016 and 2020 and most recently the President of the Canadian Catholic School Trustees’ Association in 2021.
More significant than positions, however, has been the privilege to journey with outstanding and dedicated Catholic Trustees in Hamilton, Ontario and Canada and witness the heroic work/goodness of system and school administrative leaders, teachers, support staff, parish communities, parents and students.
On a personal note, I would add that my experiences as a Catholic School Trustee has contributed to my faith formation and spiritual journey.
How have you witnessed CCSTA supporting Catholic Schools in Canada?
Throughout my 37 years as a Catholic School Trustee I have seen and very much appreciated the important advocacy efforts of C.C.S.T.A at the national level. Although education is a matter of provincial jurisdiction, the nurturing of relationships with Members of Parliament, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and other national partners is very and increasingly important.
An important way C.C.S.T.A supports Catholic schools in Canada is through the opportunity it provides for Catholic Trustees to network at the Annual General Meeting. The discussions that take place and the sharing of practices/vision is of tremendous benefit to our members and the Catholic school communities they serve. The significant and leading role C.C.S.T.A plays in the “Toonies for Tuition” campaign/program is a tremendous benefit to many parents who otherwise may not be able to send their children to a Catholic school.
What are some of the challenges you see Canadian Catholic Schools facing in 2022?
While not diminishing the complexity of the challenges confronting Catholic schools, including the increased secularization of our culture/society and the significant financial pressures public sector organizations are likely to experience as a result of government spending and increased debt as a result of the pandemic, I am filled with hope when I reflect on this time as one of great opportunity for Catholic schools.
We know that for many of our students and their parents the Catholic school is where they most often (and sometimes the only place where) they hear/witness the good news of the Gospel and experience the life-saving grace of the sacraments. By placing “Christ in the centre” of a young person’s/student’s learning experience and supporting parents in their role as the primary educators of their children, I am convinced that Catholic schools have an exciting and crucially important role in the realization of the “New Evangelization”.
How do you see CCSTA being able to respond to some of these challenges?
In addition to the services/support to Provincial Associations I described in response to question 4, I believe C.C.S.T.A has a valuable role by encouraging conversations (and to the extent possible provide resources) with regard to;
• Adult Faith Formation;
• Catholic Identity;
• Catholic Leadership Development;
• Strengthening of home/school/parish partnership; and
• Through “Active Listening, Prayer and Right Action” promote Truth and Reconciliation.
What are your hopes for your time as President of CCSTA?
Working with a dedicated Board of Directors and a small but outstanding staff, my hope is to promote/strengthen the profile of the C.C.S.T.A and support Provincial Associations and Catholic schools in realizing their Christ-centred mission.
On a personal/selfish note, my hope is to attend in person gatherings of Catholic School Trustees at the C.C.S.T.A AGM(s) and Provincial Trustee Associations gatherings so as to meet, recognize and thank Catholic School Trustees for their invaluable service.
Please join us in keeping Patrick in prayer as he discerns the unfolding work of CCSTA in this upcoming year. We are extremely grateful for Patrick’s significant contribution to Canadian Catholic Schools and we know that his experience and sincere passion for Catholic Education will be a tremendous blessing to the work of CCSTA in this New Year!