On Tuesday of this week I joined the trustees of the Edmonton Catholic School Division in the joyful task of filling food hampers for needy families served by our schools. What a beautiful endeavour! Families in need of support receive help regularly from many of our Catholic schools in the regular course of the school year through nutrition programmes offered to students. These children cannot come to school now due to pandemic restrictions, so the good folks at ECSD jumped into action to make up food hampers to ensure that families continue to get the needed help. They’ve been doing this for a few weeks now. On the day I assisted, over 800 hampers were filled.
Of course, nourishment of the body is not the only concern of our Catholic schools. Their primary purpose is to give sustenance as well to both mind and soul through the ministry of Catholic education. The day I participated in the assembly of food hampers fell within Catholic Education Week. This is the annual occasion to give thanks to God for the precious gift of our Catholic schools. The coincidence of events underscores rather wonderfully the ministry of Catholic schools as one of nurture. By careful and loving attentiveness to nourishing the body, mind and soul of every student entrusted to their care, the people involved in Catholic education participate in the call so to nurture students with the treasury of our faith that they become life-long disciples of Jesus Christ. Now that is a glorious calling!
The theme chosen for this year’s Catholic Education Week is: “United in Prayer and Grateful for our Catholic Schools.” Prayer is essential. The educational ministry entrusted to us is one that cannot be accomplished without divine inspiration and assistance. Hence, we pray. Please join with me this week – and often – in praying that our Catholic schools grow strong as communities of faith and mission, united in Jesus who stands at the centre of all educational endeavour.
As we pray, we cannot help but be aware that this particular gift of Catholic education has God as its ultimate source. This gives rise to profound thanksgiving in our hearts. So, yes, we are grateful to God for our Catholic schools. Let’s not hesitate to bring that thanks to our prayer on a daily basis.
Our gratitude also embraces everyone involved in the delivery of Catholic education. Our sentiment of thanks is always present, yet has deepened enormously over these past two months. I cannot begin even to imagine the pressure placed on trustees, administration, teachers, support staff, parents and students as they have had to find new ways to teach and learn apart from the regular school setting. They all deserve a big shout out!
Even if you do not have a direct connection with our Catholic schools, I encourage you to stay informed about what is happening, and always be ready to speak and act on their behalf. One very good way to follow developments is to stay connected through GrACE (Grateful Advocates for Catholic Education). This is an initiative led and sponsored by the Catholic Bishops, trustees and superintendents of the province. Every Catholic school board in Alberta has a GrACE committee, which aims to engage all stakeholders in the mission of invigorating, inspiring and emboldening everyone in their appreciation of and support for Catholic Education. You can follow them on Facebook, or on Twitter.
Catholic education is, indeed, a great treasure. Let us steward well this beautiful gift and look for any and all opportunities to support it.